The second season of Reacher is a departure from the first – in terms of storytelling and setting, and unfortunately in terms of quality as well
Story: Jack Reacher (Alan Ritchson) is informed that a former soldier from his unit has been brutally murdered. He travels to New York and regroups with his former colleagues to investigate the murder. Reacher’s team soon unravel a conspiracy, and that they are being hunted down by a mysterious organisation.
Review: The first season of Prime Video’s Reacher was surprisingly largely faithful to Lee Child’s 1997 debut novel Killing Floor. But the most striking aspect of the TV adaptation is the fact that Jack Reacher cuts a menacing figure with his sheer size, physicality, and hand-to-hand combat skills – bearing a close resemblance to the character created by Child for his novels. While Hollywood star Tom Cruise is commendable with his take on the character in the 2012 and 2016 films, Alan Ritchson's depiction looks like he stepped right out from the pages of Child’s novels. In addition to casting the right actor, season one’s winning formula worked because it set the story in the small idyllic town of Margrove. It helped the narrative flesh out the characters and ease the audience into the story. However, the change in setting and tone for season two, which is based on the novel Bad Luck and Trouble, appears to have jaded the narrative.
Similar to the ‘diner scene’ in season one, season two opens with Reacher at a thrift store where he ends up rescuing a mother and child from a carjacking. Showrunner Nick Santora may have incorporated this scene to gently remind the audience that Reacher is a force of nature. Of course, there is nothing ‘gentle’ about the beatdown the carjacker endured at the hands of Reacher. While this does raise expectations that season two could offer the same entertainment value as its predecessor, it ultimately falls flat. The narrative leans too heavily on familiar tropes and sets pieces and delivers mixed results. The story itself, or at least different versions of the same storyline, has been used in several films and TV shows over the years. Ferdinand Kingsley, who plays the role of a ruthless assassin is a walking cliche, to the extent it is almost cringeworthy. Unlike Kingsley’s role as Geroge Wilkins in the acclaimed Apple TV+ series Silo, his new character is yet to offer anything substantial to the overall story.
The action sequences, as one would from a series with a reasonably high production budget, are well executed. They are pulsating and offer some of the best moments in the first three episodes of season two. New characters such as Karla Dixon (Serinda Swan), and David O’Donnell (Shaun Sipos) add an additional layer of storytelling as does the returning Frances Neagley (Maria Sten). However, the one character who does show a lot of promise is Domenick Lombardozzi’s turn as the NYPD detective investigating the murder of Calvin Franz. The veteran TV actor best known for playing Sergeant Thomas ‘Herc’ Hauk in the iconic HBO series The Wire slips into the role of a policeman with ease. Unlike his character in The Wire, Lombardozzi’s Guy Russo is a sharp investigator. And his dynamic with Reacher could become interesting as the season progresses. Robert Patrick plays the role of the primary antagonist but the character risks being the stereotypical ‘action TV show villain.’
The first three episodes are unable to match the quality of season one, despite an obvious attempt to expand the narrative on a broader scale. The new characters could eventually steer the show in the right direction, but the story is already travelling down a path which several TV shows have already taken – rendering the story predictable.
Verdict: The second season of the Prime Video series, Reacher, begins underwhelming. It is a departure from the first season – in terms of storytelling and setting, and unfortunately in terms of quality as well. Despite its indulgence in saturated tropes, the series has the potential to lift itself out of its mediocrity and conclude season two on a high.