Reacher is the best action show out right now. Here’s why

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REACHER Season 2 - Official Trailer | Prime Video

Reacher is back, and he’s more badass than ever. Alan Ritchson returns for a second round of action and mystery-solving in season 2 of Prime Video’s hit Reacher, based on Lee Child’s Jack Reacher book series. The actor plays the titular character, a self-proclaimed hobo and former military policeman whose terrifying abilities make him the worst nightmare for anyone stupid enough to cross him.

A surprising hit with its first season, Reacher received acclaim from critics, cementing itself as one of the best original series on Amazon Prime. Season 2 takes everything that worked about its predecessor and improves upon it while maintaining the same gritty, outright cathartic approach that first made it successful. Once again, the plot juggles past and present; in the past, the show follows Reacher’s time in the army with his squad, the 110th MP Special Investigations Unit. In the present, Reacher receives a message about a string of deaths from several members of his squad. Reuniting with the survivors, he sets out to find the culprits and punish them like only he knows how.

Benefitting from Ritchson’s terrific performance, Reacher season 2 is bigger and better, proving that it is the best action show on television and the perfect antidote to the joyful and inescapable cheer of the Christmas season. Here’s why.

If it ain’t broke…

Alan Ritchson as Jack Reacher from the Amazon Prime Video series Reacher standing outside, looking menacing.
Image via Amazon Prime Video

Season 1 of Reacher succeeded largely because it was a well-told, well-crafted, contained season of television. It was thrilling enough to surprise yet cerebral enough to keep audiences guessing; the general story might’ve been predictable, but the intricacies were not. This approach felt so simplistic that it was refreshing. In an age when film and television feel the need to be as bombastic as possible, there’s something truly amazing about a show that sticks to the basics.

Reacher doesn’t reinvent the genre; on the contrary, it embraces it. Nearly every cliché is present, from the sassy, by-the-book cop – a scene-stealing Domenick Lombardozzi – to the cartoonish-yet-unbelievably-hateable villain – the always-reliable Robert Patrick. Quotes are repeated ad nauseam – remember, in an investigation, details matter – and character traits are milked until they’re dry. Much like the titular hero, the show takes major plot points and beats you over the head with them. Yet, therein lies its allure. There’s a welcome familiarity to Reacher that makes it enjoyable – comforting even. That is until the titular big guy unexpectedly breaks someone’s leg or chokes someone to death.

Meet The Characters | REACHER Season 2 | Prime Video

The last few years have been amazing for the action genre, and Reacher is a worthy addition to the ever-increasing canon of brutal and endlessly entertaining crime capers. The show excels because it features a near-perfect balance of compelling, fast-moving, and surprising mystery and gritty, no-nonsense thrills. There’s a much-appreciated naturalism to Reacher‘s action sequences that makes them feel more grounded than, say, stuff like the boundary-pushing Mission: Impossible or the violently stylish John Wick. Reacher is a beast, yes, but for all his strengths, he’s very much fallible. For example, he hits like a truck but runs like a tractor – there’s even a joke about it.

Reacher‘s action is also highly effective. After all, nothing is quite as satisfying as seeing bad guys suffer for their crimes, and this show knows it. It maximizes each punishment without making it overly graphic. Don’t get me wrong, season 2 is louder and bloodier than season 1, but the violence never becomes excessive or nauseating. Reacher‘s action walks a fine line, showing just enough to have viewers cheering at the bad guy’s demise without making them want to turn away from the screen.

Reacher has friends!

Shaun Sipos, Serinda Swan, Alan Ritchson, and Maria Sten as O'Donnell, Dixon, Reacher, and Neagley looking at a photo spread over a car hood in Reacher season 2.
Image via Amazon Prime Video

Last time, Reacher solved the Margrave mystery with the help of young Sergeant Roscoe Conklin and uptight Chief Detective Oscar Finlay. The three made for an odd group, their dynamic relying on their opposing personalities struggling to work together. It was great and largely the reason behind season 1’s unforeseen charm. However, season 2 skips the bonding stage and gets right to it, bringing Reacher’s old army buddies into the equation.

Frances Neagley is back in a larger role, along with Karla Dixon and David O’Donnell, two former members of the 100th who are loyal to Reacher. Unlike Roscoe and Finlay, who often expressed confusion and occasional shock at Reacher’s methods, Neagley, Dixon, and O’Donnell are well acquainted with them. This allows season 2 to jump straight into the action, forsaking any need for introductions or set-ups.

Reacher Season 2 - “You Look Road Worn” New Clips & Trailer (2023)

More importantly, Neagley, Dixon, and O’Donnell’s presence means Reacher now has some pretty spectacular group sequences. Reacher still shines, but his three companions are as capable as he is, each getting the chance to claim the spotlight with their enviable fighting moves. Season 2 finds Reacher experimenting with more stylish fight choreography –  a particularly striking sequence involves the group going against a biker gang. Still, the action remains astonishing and brutal; a bashed skull is a bashed skull, and Reacher bashes a ton of them.

The big guy is here to stay

Alan Ritschon as Jack Reacher turning back and looking suspicious at something off-camera in Prime Video's Reacher.
Image via Amazon Prime Video

Without a doubt, Reacher is the best action show on television right now, an old-school crime thriller that packs quite a punch. Amazon Prime has several great action movies and even a few worthy shows – looking at you, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. However, none compares to Reacher, a show that understands the power of straightforward, unpretentious, satisfying storytelling.

Prime Video understands this, as it has already renewed Reacher for a third season. Who can blame them? Between ReacherJack RyanThe Terminal List, and Citadel, the streamer is slowly building itself as the ultimate destination for “dad content.” Reacher is the best of those shows, though, and it’s not even close. Prime Video doesn’t have to worry about running out of content either, as the Jack Reacher series includes a whopping 26 books to draw from. So, fans of Reacher can celebrate, as there seems to be Jack Reacher for a while, and honestly, the action genre is better because of it.

Reacher season 2 is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.