Fans of author Lee Child’s drifter detective Jack Reacher novels weren’t thrilled when Tom Cruise was cast as the titular hero for the film adaptations. One detail wasn’t right. And it matters. Reacher should be a 6-foot-5, 250-pound muscular monster.
So when it was announced Amazon Studios was taking another crack at the character, which, Child promised, would be truer to the books, expectations were high. The first season (now available, with a second confirmed) is a beat-for-beat adaptation of Child’s first novel, Killing Floor, in every detail that matters.
Moments after walking into the small Georgia town of Margrave, Reacher (the gigantic Alan Ritchson) is arrested for murder. Soon he’s working with chief detective Finlay (Malcom Goodwin) and Lt. Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald). Bodies pile up and motives are murky. These aren’t just ordinary killings, as most of the victims are tortured, mangled, mutilated, and what the camera can’t show the characters discuss in vulgar if technically accurate ways. Because, uh, details matter. Reacher’s own body count and methods are equally impressive. The only thing sharper than his deductive reasoning skills are his elbow jabs.
Fans of the novels anticipated extreme violence and a splash of sex and shouldn’t be shocked by the TV-MA content. Those expecting more of the PG-13 fun of the Cruise movies will be appalled.
The investigation turns personal for Reacher, but that doesn’t obscure his attention to detail. “Details matter,” he says in almost all eight episodes. It’s also the philosophy of the showrunners, as every frame oozes atmosphere and seeds the ground for future seasons. Whether the show is entertaining because of the savage violence or in spite of it is a matter of taste. With clever writing, humor, and excellent performances it certainly has more to offer than fight choreography. But is it enough to make it worthwhile?
Details matter, after all.
In a flashback, Reacher’s mother (Leslie Fray) points out that her son is stronger than his peers and challenges him, asking, “What will you do with that strength?” In Matthew 25 Jesus encourages his listeners to be attentive and consider their actions. Details matter. “For to everyone who has more will be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Matt. 25:29).
Whether or not you want to invest the talents of your entertainment time to a show like Reacher is up to you. It’s an engaging, lazy-day action mystery designed to hold our attention. It’s got everything the creators intended to give. But there are some details we could do without. (Amazon Studios)