First up, Lee Child‘s character was depicted onscreen by Tom Cruise. Given that the titular hero is meant to be over 6ft tall, and Cruise is 5’7, he was criticised for that. I’m the same height, so I can’t criticise him for it. However, the first film was a bit so-so, and the sequel was terrible.
To redress the balance, our lead is now Alan Ritchson, who I don’t remember from anything else particularly, and nothing stands out for me on IMDB. That’s probably a good thing, so we have a completely blank canvas.
Ritchson looks like he can play the drifter type, and as he’s almost 40, he’s heading towards middle age where you can’t figure out what you want in life.
This series is based on the story Killing Floor. I know there’s numerous novels which have been released, but I prefer to wait for big or small-screen adaptations of novels.
Turning up in Margave, Georgia, Jack doesn’t even carry a bag with him, but his first issue is to address a moron who’s hassling his girlfriend. Just a look is enough to put him in his place. However, it’s not long before he’s wanted by the police… in a diner, rather like the opening of Never Go Back.
Jack is a bit of a smart-arse and quietly sarcastic, who lives off an army pension (which must be worth a fortune if he doesn’t have to actually earn a living), but no sooner has he attracted this unwanted attention, and he learns a man is dead, but our hero has very little to say about why he’s been arrested, other than the fact he hasn’t done it. Plus, the police have to put zip ties on his wrists because cuffs don’t fit him as he’s a Billy Big-Hands.
Our man can be very chatty when he wants to be, so it’s a shame there’s no subtitles on the preview I watched, since when he does talk, he can talk ten-to-the-dozen, and I had to rewind the programme a bit to repeat those scenes.
Elsewhere in the plot, Jack’s path crosses with Paul Hubble (Marc Bendavid), who’s in trouble due to embezzlement issues, and for whatever reason, the only place they can stay overnight is a prison which is meant to be a relatively safe cell, but as you can expect, they end up admist a bunch of hard nuts who want to make trouble for them, which leads to a lot of fisticuffs from the lead. So, if you can rely on him for one thing, he can deliver some hard punches when required.
The rest of the time in the first two episodes I’ve seen so far, he just stands there staring like a NPC (non-player character) from a videogame who hasn’t been given any lines to say for this scene, and is happy to just stare into the middle distance.
Also thrown into the mix is Malcolm Goodwin as Finlay, a man who’s running the local cop shop in this ‘backwater town’, but with his education background, he clearly thinks its beneath him. About the only one who seems trustworthy in any form is the sole female cop, Willa Fitzgerald as the doe-eyed Roscoe Conklin.
As for our hero who tries to act all ‘Miss Marple’ in his occasionally methodical pursuit of the truth, at one point, he goes to use a car with the full knowledge of the police, even though earlier on we were told they couldn’t find any records of him, including a driving licence, since he lives his life off-grid. There’s other similar transgressions for which he just seems to get a free pass because he’s apparently trusting, and I even think he was said to have “kind eyes”.
He wanders about like Dirty Harry, happy to use his fists to get his answers. Given that between this and the prison scenes, it comes across as a daft ’80s Arnie film without major one-liners to break it up. Okay, well, in the first episode there’s humour from Jack, but after that, this aspect calms down a bit as it gets into the plot.
That said, it’s not exactly heavily-plotted. I know the Jack Reacher books are incredibly popular, but I’m not feeling that come across in this adaptation. As my last paragraph shows, it feels more like a number of borrowed ideas from the past. Even then, unless I wasn’t following it properly, the plot seems to chop and change, and doesn’t have an awful lot of coherence.
For example, it also includes a daft scene set in in a bar, where drinks and car keys are left unattended on a table for a while. Maybe everyone’s trustworthy… in this town where they’re trying to find a killer?
Killing Floor is the first in the series of Lee Child’s novels for the character, so I presume if this is a hit, they’ll follow on with subsequent books, but after two episodes, I’m not particularly drawn into the plot. It’s rather plodding and doesn’t seem to know how to pick up the pace. Okay, so it has to stretch it out to eight episodes, but then if it’s this slow in the telling, perhaps it should cut down to 5 or 6 episodes?
I’ll wait for the reception to this series upon its release, before deciding whether to watch more episodes. Once it launches, I know subtitles will be available.
Either way, one reason to stick with it would be for the lovely Miss Roscoe. I just hope that she doesn’t become Sheriff, since ‘Sheriff Rosco’ was the rotund chap from The Dukes Of Hazzard, and that’s not who I want to be reminded about.
Thanks to our friends at Amazon Prime Video for the screener prior to release.
Reacher is on Amazon Prime in full from Friday February 4th. It’s not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Episode 1 Score: 6/10
Episode 2 Score: 4/10
Series Directors: Norberto Barba, MJ Bassett, Sam Hill, Omar Madha, Christine Moore, Lin Oeding, Stephen Surjik, Thomas Vincent
Producers: Aadrita Mukerji, Agatha Barnes, Sarah Riley
Writer: Cait Duffy, Scott Sullivan, Nick Santora
Novel: Lee Child
Music: Tony Morales
Jack Reacher: Alan Ritchson
Finlay: Malcolm Goodwin
Roscoe Conklin: Willa Fitzgerald
Officer Baker: Hugh Thompson
KJ: Chris Webster
Mayor Teale: Bruce McGill
Mosley: Willie C Carpenter
Jasper: Harvey Guillen
Young Reacher: Maxwell Jenkins
Young Joe: Gavin White
Josephine Reacher: Leslie Fray
Stan: Matthew Marsden
Stevenson: Jonathan Koensgen
Dawson: AJ Simmons
Paul Hubble: Marc Bendavid
Spivey: Patrick Garrow
Waitress: Catherine Fitch
Chief Edward Morrison: Peter Skagen
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.