Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Heavy hitter

Reacher offers plenty of action but too much raunchy material

Amazon Studios

Heavy hitter
You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining. You've read all of your free articles.

Full access isn’t far.

We can’t release more of our sound journalism and commentary without a subscription, but we can make it easy for you to come aboard.

Get into news that is grounded in facts and Biblical truth for as low as $3.99 per month.


Already a member? Sign in.

Many fans of British author Lee Child balked at Tom Cruise being cast in the title role of the Jack Reacher films based on the action character from Child’s popular book series. Dark-haired and 5'7", Cruise bore little resemblance to the hulking blond former U.S. Army military police officer in Child’s novels who crisscrosses the country with a nose for trouble and a fist for justice.

Those fans should be happy with Goliathan actor Alan Ritchson, who more than fills the role of Jack Reacher in Amazon Prime’s new TV series, Reacher (rated TV-MA). The show’s producers make no efforts to hide the 6'5" Ritchson’s impossibly muscular physique. His massive biceps (did his arms swallow Tom Cruise whole?) get so much screen time, they deserve their own mention in the credits.

But Jack Reacher is more than a muscle head. He’s a perceptive investigator who pieces together seemingly unrelated clues. For example, when he meets local police detective Oscar Finlay (Malcolm Goodwin) in the first episode, he deduces from Finlay’s accent and clothing that he attended Harvard, is divorced, and recently quit smoking. Reacher is still an old-school bruiser, though, who dispatches bad guys with a few quick jabs and even fewer words. But he’s also a Superman for millennials, who recycles and feeds an abandoned dog. Bravo.

The show itself deserves real bravos for eschewing sensuality—at least through the first three hourlong episodes I watched. In two romance-looming scenes that most shows and films today would escalate into un-Biblical amorousness, the Reacher characters intentionally keep their distance—for now.

In any case, Reacher has other elements that will make it a no-go for many would-be viewers: glimpses of bare male backsides, full frontal male nudity in a gory crime scene, the aforementioned pugilistic violence, and 15 or so strong profanities per episode. The producers’ raunchy choices spoil the show’s wry charm.

Reacher is based on Child’s debut novel, Killing Floor. The story opens in fictional Margrave, Ga. (but is filmed in Pickering, Ontario), a sleepy Southern hamlet that hasn’t seen in a murder in 20 years. Initially accused of murder, Reacher begrudgingly teams with Finlay and officer Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald) to help them investigate the rising body count. Reacher, Finlay, and Conklin sort through a bevy of shady suspects—a wealthy business owner, the power-hungry mayor, corrupt prison guards, and South American hitmen—who may be entangled in a conspiracy that extends far beyond the city limits.

Questions surround Reacher’s presence, and his past as well. Why is he in Margrave? And what about accusations that Reacher murdered civilians while on duty in Iraq? Since VidAngel offers filtering for this show, for me the answers are within reach.

Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.



Please wait while we load the latest comments...


Please register, subscribe, or login to comment on this article.