April 25, 2024
Peter Calder

"Reacher": Honing in on a New Identity and Setting (1 minute read)

Jason Bourne, James Bond, Ethan Hunt, Mike Banning and the list can go on; these are just a few names of characters from the top blockbuster, American, male-protagonist, action-packed films. 

"Reacher" is a new instalment in this genre, a scripted series which has become one of Amazon Prime's biggest successes. 

It may sound familiar because it is a new version of some previous works; beginning in the late 1990s, a series of books was published, and then they were adapted into two feature films starring Tom Cruise, quite fitting for this genre. 

Most recently, a brand new series based on the original tale starring Alan Ritchson has been created called "Reacher." 

This genre is becoming harder to stand out in; over the years, there have been a lot of films and TV shows with officers, bodyguards and special agents trying to reach a goal in a fist-fighting and thrilling way. Why is this one a hit?

A commonality I've noticed with TV and film that seems to be doing well, especially nowadays, is creating a smaller worldly setting. Unlike massive blockbusters like "Fast and Furious" films or "Mission Impossible" films, many new shows, specifically thrillers, action or crime fiction films, and TV, tend to lower the scale of the setting. 

In a typical mission impossible or fast and furious film, the characters are seen doing insanely large crazy stunts, and the story takes place in not only multiple cities but also countries and even across continents. In more recent works, there have been quite a few I've seen that have been successful in doing the complete opposite for a setting. These pieces of work usually take place in a small town or city with less extravagant stunts.   A few examples would be "Ozark," "Breaking Bad," "Outer Banks," "The Last Stand," and "Road House." 

The new Reacher series falls into the same category as these works. I think pursuing a narrative with limitations like the scale of the setting and huge stunts forces more emphasis on characters, their wants and ultimately, the story itself. In a way, it also makes the film or TV show seem more plausible or real for the viewer as something quite possible to happen in our world, rather than in "Fast and Furious," where a car flies from two skyscrapers.

I do have to admit I was a bit hesitant to see Alan Ritchson in this series because it is a far more serious role than the one I grew up watching him in (Thad from "Blue Mountain State"). But I wasn't disappointed; the series felt refreshing from seeing the previous Jack Reacher films with Tom Cruise. The new series pushes through to creating its own identity instead of being too similar to a mission impossible, Jason Bourne or James Bond-type film/TV show. I'm interested in seeing more films and TV in the future that are getting more popularity, focusing on the less extravagant side, such as taking place in small settings and not going too crazy with the bells and whistles.