Monday 3 June 2024

TV Shows #30 - Part 2

Reacher Season Two (2023)
Developed By: Nick Santora
Starring: Alan Ritchson, Maria Sten, Serinda Swan, Shaun Sipos, Ferdinand Kingsley, Robert Patrick, Domenick Lombardozzi

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 42-56 Minutes per Episode, 8 Episodes

Whether you were already a fan of the Jack Reacher books or not, I don't think there were many people who weren't enthused by Alan Ritchson's already-iconic portrayal of the title character in the first season of Amazon's adaptation. The Cruise films were good as films but I now see they weren't so good as Reacher films. The first season of the show was. Well, a good adaptation. You know what I mean. Part of the reason for this was the impact of Ritchson's portrayal; the 'Holy crap, look at this guy!' factor, if you will. Seeing him scare a lairy guy into obsequiousness with a stare; sussing a murder crime scene before the lead detective has even had time to get a coffee; taking out a room full of violent criminals without breaking a sweat. Up until the first season, most of us didn't know what he was capable of. Now we do know, so the big question is: since the second season loses this aspect, amongst other things, can it possibly be as good and as satisfying as the first?

It starts in much the same way as the first - someone being killed, this time after getting thrown from a helicopter, then Reacher arriving in a new town. Once he has beaten the crap out of a random carjacker, however, he finds an SOS from Neagley (the only returning character besides Reacher himself) who has some bad news: it turns out that splatted helicopter dude was Franz, a member of the 110th Special Investigations Unit which Reacher headed in his military days.

Reacher gets a dressing down from his CO...
An attempt to gather the remaining members of the 110th reveals others are missing. The conclusion? Someone is hunting them down, torturing them, and then offing them. The questions are: who and why? The former is known to us pretty quickly, and to Reacher and the remaining members of the 110th not too long after, but the latter takes a good deal more investigating. Not that Reacher is especially bothered to start with - he just wants revenge. It was him who personally recruited all the members of the 110th, after all, so he obviously feels some personal responsibility on top of the rage from learning his friends are dead. As well as Neagley (Sten), he is joined by O'Donnell (Sipos) and Dixon (Swan) who are a lawyer and forensic accountant respectively. Don't worry, though, they can kick ass too!

Most of their investigation is centred around New York, so no 'small town charm' this time around, and all signs quickly point to New Age, a private defense contractor, and its head of security, Shane Langston (Patrick), an ex-NYPD detective (and a corrupt one at that). Unsurprisingly, much of Langston's security team is also made up of ex-NYPD goons and they are up to... something. Something big enough to be worth taking on the mighty 110th Special Investigations Unit, no less.

The remainder of the 110th plan their next move...
I don't think it's much of a spoiler to say that this goes about as well as you would expect! Once the remaining team members have had a chance to get together, do some investigating (or indeed special investigating, as the case may be), and work out what's going on, obviously. As with the first season, it's not long before the local fuzz show an interest either, this time in the form of Russo (Lombardozzi), an NYPD homocide detective who doesn't take kindly to Reacher & Co's typical bull-in-a-china-shop tactics. Much like our favourite tweed-wearing detective from Margrave, however, despite starting out as adversaries, Russo soon becomes yet another arrow in Reacher's bulging (snigger) quiver. Aside from the 110th lunkheads and New Age goons, though, he is about the only new main character.

While a couple more might've been nice, this isn't much of an issue, admittedly, but there are a few issues this time around. The biggest one is the one I mentioned at the start - the impact of the titular character is greatly diminished, as expected. First impressions matter, after all. It's also a little disappointing that we know who the big bad of the season is, pretty much from the off, and it doesn't take too much longer to find out what he and his idiotic cronies are after either. Both aspects were drip-fed to us as well as Reacher last time, and it definitely kept things interesting.

Russo explains why you can't just kill everyone...
There have also been murmurs of discontent about the presense of Reacher's army buddies since he's generally much more of a 'lone wolf' type. Many wanted to see him crack skulls and figure everything out by himself again, but that complaint doesn't make so much sense to me as he had Finlay and Roscoe (as well as Neagley for half the season) helping him out last time, after all. None of these are season-spoiling issues though, for me anyway. Reacher is still here and he still kicks (or punches/elbows/headbutts) ass on numerous occasions; sometimes with help, other times alone, but always satisfyingly and entertainingly. Ritchson still plays him as well as before, too, even if some of his recent interviews/social media posts have soured some fans on him, and by extension the show as well.

Whatever you might think of his religious/political beliefs, however, he's still perfect for this role and remains very watchable. It's great to see Sten back as Neagley too. She has more screentime and puts it to great use, frequently proving to be the brains of the 110th, although she now has haphephobia which is the fear of being touched. Bit of a strange character trait for Lee Childs to add (for yes, it was present in the books too). It doesn't seem to affect her fighting abilities much though, aside from screaming "DON'T TOUCH ME!!" when a goon does indeed manage to grab her. Never mind, least we get to see her in a sexy dress, even if she's not happy wearing it!

Saying goodbye to an old friend...
We already know she and Reacher work well together and the two of them also have good chemistry with former ladies man-turned husband and father, O'Donnell, and Dixon who has long been horny for Reacher (and who, I just noticed, looks strangely tall in this pic to the right!). Robert Patrick frequently plays bad guys and does the job here well enough too, but the best newcomer is Russo who is great as a typically no-nonsense Italian-American New Yorker (not too surprising since that's what Lombardozzi is too!). I know I'm not the only one who hoped to see Finlay and Roscoe return but we don't exactly get lumbered with a bunch of duds this time, and there are some superb action scenes for all of them to do some flexing including a confrontation with a biker gang, a great car chase, and a truck hijacking.

As far as I've seen, opinions on this season have been somewhat mixed; most have been in favour but some found it something of a let down. It would definitely have benefitted the story if the identity of the main antagonists had been obscured a little more, but that's about my only complaint, personally, and I assume it's just because the book did the same anyway. Yes, the initial, considerable impact of the character and Ritchson's portrayal are lost, but that's unavoidable - I was just happy to see him back and laying the smack down again, and I suspect if you enjoyed the first season as much as me, you'll feel the same way. It's not quite as good but it's still a pretty damn entertaining show! Now we just have to wait for the third season which I believe has just about finished filming. See you there!

RKS Score: 8/10

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