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Culture Movies/TV

Prime Video’s “Reacher” Is Heavy on Clichés and Light on Substance

Most movies and TV shows fall victim to using clichés, and as a viewer, you have to hope that the entire story isn’t forced to rely on those platitudes to support the plot.

In Prime Video’s Reacher, that is unfortunately not true. The show is so overly dependent on them that it’s hard not to feel that you’ve seen this entire story before by the time the first season’s eight episodes have finished. Based on the “Jack Reacher” character from the series of novels written by Lee Child, Reacher borrows elements from the first book titled Killing Floor.

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Per Prime Video’s description: “When retired Military Police Officer Jack Reacher is arrested for a murder he did not commit, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly conspiracy full of dirty cops, shady businessmen and scheming politicians. With nothing but his wits, he must figure out what is happening in Margrave, Georgia.”

As you can see, a “rogue enforcer/ex-cop takes on small-town corruption” is not a novel concept, but it is possible to put an interesting spin on it. Reacher fails at that, and when the twists arrive, you can see them coming from miles away.

Prime Video

Jack Reacher, or just Reacher, as everyone (including his mother!) calls him, is played by Alan Ritchson, who is perhaps best known for his roles on Smallville where he played Aquaman/Arthur Curry, and as Thad Castle on Blue Mountain State. 

Ritchson, an already large human, bulked up and gained over 30 pounds for the role. He aimed to look more like the Reacher envisioned by Child in the novels rather than the version that Tom Cruise embodied in the two film adaptations where he portrayed the character. In being faithful to the character in the books, Ritchson succeeds wholeheartedly.

The dialogue is extremely clumsy and, as you probably guessed, riddled with clichés, but Ritchson can maneuver past it and deliver a solid performance.

However, when the character itself isn’t great to begin with, the viewer’s first instinct might be to blame the actor rather than the writer. In the case of Reacher, that is unfair to Ritchson and Lee Child.

Ritchson is particularly great in the action scenes, delivering the moves with shocking brutality and force, which I’m sure was met with Child’s approval.

Word of warning for those who are a little squeamish: Reacher is a bloody and brutal show with plenty of bone-crunching and killing to be found.

Prime Video

Supporting Reacher are the two honest cops in Margrave, Detective Oscar Finley (Malcolm Goodwin) and Roscoe Conklin (Willa Fitzgerald). Similar to Ritchson’s take on Reacher, both Fitzgerald and Goodwin play their roles as well as they can, given the script.

Finley is a Boston detective who recently moved to Georgia to escape the memories of his deceased wife, and Conklin is one of the newer members of the small-town police force. Both recognize that there is something wrong in Margrave but, until Reacher arrives, they are unable to do anything about it.

Without spoiling anything, Fitzgerald is particularly shortchanged by the script, being boiled down to Reacher’s love interest. She does have some stand-out moments but is never truly given a chance to shine.

It works to the show’s strength that the protagonists are the best performances because the villains are so easily forgettable that when it’s revealed who is behind it all, you’ll say to yourself, “oh yeah, they’re in the show as well.”

Prime Video

If you’re in the mood for a straightforward, action-heavy TV series that, at times, is very fun, then you can do a whole lot worse than Reacher.

However, when there are better options available and ones that are far more memorable such as HBO Max’s Peacemaker, Disney+’s The Mandalorian, or even Prime Video’s own Jack Ryan, it’s easy to skip Reacher.

Reacher premieres on Prime Video on February 4th, with an eight-episode first season.

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

Prime Video’s ‘As We See It’ Begs the Question: What Is “Normal”?

Ever combine pineapple juice, Sprite, cranberry juice, vodka, M&M’s, lime juice, and Fruity Pebbles with a pink sugar rim and a gummy bear garnish? Okay, yeah, don’t.

Director of Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, Jason Katims’ new series, As We See It, features Harrison (Albert Rutecki), Jack (Rick Glassman), and Violet (Sue Ann Pien), who are three roommates on the Autism spectrum living together in an apartment.

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Harrison is the most introverted of the bunch, especially having trouble leaving the apartment because of loud noises, random encounters, and, most importantly: dogs. A good portion of the show is spent tracking him as he works to forge past his fear of walking down the street.

Jack is a computer genius who works at a publishing house, though he has trouble keeping his job because he doesn’t hold back in sharing that he’s smarter than everyone else in the room. Jack speaks his mind, not always taking other people’s feelings into account. He’s also probably the wittiest of the bunch, with some great one-liners that don’t even seem like they were meant to be funny.

Violet works at Arby’s—first as a cashier, though she’s quickly demoted to “sandwich technician” after she makes an inappropriate comment to a customer. Similar to Jack, Violet has less of a filter when it comes to speaking her mind, though she is also anxious to be more grown-up, so she’s determined to find the perfect boyfriend.

Ali Goldstein / Amazon Studios

Harrison, Jack, and Violet also share Mandy (Sosie Bacon), their aide, who works with them throughout each day and holds morning meetings to discuss their goals for the week. Extremely skilled at what she does, Mandy can push them towards their goals without pushing too much; through these close bonds, she’s able to see how they view the world and how the outside world views them. Being able to see both sides allows the audience to see that, on top of how much the world needs to walk around with a bit more compassion for people.

Though Harrison, Jack, and Violet have a few overlapping qualities, the most apparent of them all is their shared feeling of just wanting to fit in with everyone else. The word that gets thrown around the most in this show is that infamous one: “normal.”

Each character is told at various points that their differences are the best things about them, but most of the time, all they want is the opposite. In an effort to appear “normal” to someone he likes, Jack finally asks Mandy, “Is it obvious to everyone that I’m not normal?” He has felt different his whole life, and it seems clear that he’s sick of being told that it’s better not to be normal. When Mandy responds to Jack and says, “For what it’s worth, I think you are such a beautiful person that you shouldn’t have to hide who you are,” Jack is clearly stuck in an internal struggle and simply says, “That makes me want to throw up.”

Ali Goldstein / Amazon Studios

As a whole, As We See It gently blends drama and comedy to show a realistic perspective of what it’s like to navigate the world while being on the Autism spectrum. It focuses on remembering to celebrate the little wins, as each one is a vital part of the process of growing. Progress takes time, and over the course of the show, we’re able to see how much the characters have already moved forward with their goals.

At the beginning of the first episode, Jack expresses his intense desire to buy a Roomba. When he finally buys one and starts it up, the Roomba moves all across the floor, making its way through the living room until it finally hits a piece of furniture. Without hesitation, the Roomba immediately flips itself around and heads in another direction. I’d like to think that the Roomba was given that spotlight to say a little something about the characters in As We See It.

Each character is trucking along with their own goals until they hit a little something in their paths. Though it might jar them for a second, they don’t let it bog themselves down—they keep on moving.

As We See It premieres on Prime Video on January 21, with eight episodes in total.