Reacher review – the house-sized action hero Tom Cruise will never be


Dear fellow fans of Lee Child’s inimitable creation: all you need to know about Reacher (Amazon Prime Video), the new television series based on the books, is that for the first six and half minutes of the opening episode, Reacher says nothing.

This, for the uninitiated, is both the defining feature of Jack Reacher – our ex-military police, lone-wolf hero and man-with-virtually-no-name – and a recurring line in the series of books about his violently noble and nobly violent adventures. Silence is the essence of the man. Most of the outrage surrounding the casting of Tom Cruise in the role for the two film adaptations (of the ninth and 18th books) dwelt on the fact that Reacher is a 6ft 5in, 250-pound wall of muscle and Cruise is … not. But it should have been at least as much about the fact that Cruise’s essential energy is that of a chirrupy people-pleaser and Reacher is living proof that a man can be an island if he just puts his mind to it.

Now, at last, we have everything. A production team that understands that, like Harry Potter fans, we need the books – precision-engineered already to deliver exactly what is expected – translated to the screen as fully and as smoothly as possible. And Alan Ritchson, an actor the size of a house and roughly as expressive unless called upon to be otherwise. He has all of Reacher’s stillness and confidence. He exudes exactly his brand of weary patience. And somehow – and of all these gifts, this one surely had the producers falling upon him in weeping gratitude – he is capable of delivering Reacher’s occasional but vital monologues about how exactly he is going to break the next seven people’s heads.

The inaugural Reacher series is based, as is right and proper, on the first book in the novel sequence – Killing Floor. If you have read Killing Floor, you now know – and this is a promise of delight, not disappointment – exactly what happens in it. But, again, for the uninitiated: our enormous hero gets off a bus (on a whim – this, and drinking black coffee, is what he does) in the tiny town of Margrave, Georgia, and is quickly arrested on suspicion of murder. Now he must stay in Margrave and prove he didn’t do it. And, when he finds out who has been killed, the matter becomes a personal “find everybody responsible and kill every last one of them”.

In the process, he gets put in the bad part of a prison to await arraignment and must use his finely honed fighting skills to stay alive (to see Ritchson walking serenely out of a bathroom littered with bleeding bodies is to know a very special kind of peace), befriends a lady (Reacher is allowed one lady per adventure) and forges a mutually respectful alliance with the investigating officer who is reluctantly impressed by both Reacher’s intellect and street smarts, which combine to give him almost Sherlockian powers of deduction. Ritchson’s delivery (with just a flicker of knowing humour about the eyes) of these litanies of deduction on screen recall – gloriously – the heady days of Paul Gross doing similar monologues as Constable Benton Fraser in Due South, albeit with the slightly more surreal atmosphere of the show to help him sell it. Ritchson works alone.

Amazon’s take on Reacher is as solidly made as he is and delivers the rollicking yarn as efficiently as the man himself can dispatch a Glock-wielding gangster. It is great, great fun and will come as a great, great relief to the Reacher devotees who will surely – at least at first – form the bulk of viewers. It will please them endlessly but is still drawn broadly enough as a crime drama to attract others. Pour yourself a black coffee, sit back and enjoy.

About the author

Olivia Wilson
By Olivia Wilson


Get in touch

Content and images available on this website is supplied by contributors. As such we do not hold or accept liability for the content, views or references used. For any complaints please contact Use of this website signifies your agreement to our terms of use. We do our best to ensure that all information on the Website is accurate. If you find any inaccurate information on the Website please us know by sending an email to and we will correct it, where we agree, as soon as practicable. We do not accept liability for any user-generated or user submitted content – if there are any copyright violations please notify us at – any media used will be removed providing proof of content ownership can be provided. For any DMCA requests under the digital millennium copyright act
Please contact: with the subject DMCA Request.