Reacher is heading to Amazon Prime Video on February 4. We watched it all ahead of the premiere to help put together a list of movies and shows like Reacher. The show is a real treat for fans of detective fiction, and it’s likely to leave you wanting more.
Reacher leans into its crime novel roots, revelling in its pulp mystery like an addictive airplane read. It may be a little creaky around the edges, with a few groan-worthy lines of dialogue in any given episode, but its hard-boiled plot and magnetic lead actors make it really shine.
Check out: Everything you need to know about Reacher
Based on Lee Child’s bestselling series of crime novels, Reacher follows the titular Jack Reacher, a veteran military police investigator with a knack for finding trouble. Now a lone drifter living on his early pension, Reacher finds himself in Margrave, Georgia, where he’s been linked to a murder. Teaming up with two local cops who smell a conspiracy, Reacher’s out to get his man.
Alan Ritchson is pitch-perfect in the role of Reacher. More than that, though, Ritchson’s chemistry with his co-stars Willa Fitzgerald and Malcolm Goodwin is absolutely terrific and helps sell the show. Check it out on February 4 on Amazon. If you’re not already a member, you can sign up below. And keep reading for a list of nine movies and shows like Reacher that are also well worth watching.
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Movies and shows like Reacher
Reacher isn’t the first adaptation of Child’s novels. It may be the truest to the source material though. Child’s Jack Reacher stands at 6’5. In A Wanted Man, Child describes him as having hands the size of dinner plates. That lines up relatively well with Alan Ritchson’s portrayal of the character as a hulking tough guy.
2012’s Jack Reacher (and 2016’s Jack Reacher: Never Go Back) stars Tom Cruise as the titular character, in contrast. He’s, well, not so hulking. The first film is quite good and will certainly scratch the itch left by Reacher when you get through season one (or between episodes if you just can’t get enough). When five people are gunned down seemingly at random by a sniper, Jack Reacher is called in to help investigate. He soon realizes the crime is more than it appears and gets to work doing what he does best.
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There’s something immediately appealing about a southern setting and an outsider looking for answers. Perhaps the very best show like Reacher is FX’s Justified, which ran for six seasons and is now set for a revival series.
When US Marshall Raylan Givens crosses some ethical lines with his Wild-West cowboy approach to policing in Miami, he’s reassigned to his hometown in Kentucky. There, he has to play nice with his new bosses, get reacquainted with the locals, and bring some bad people from his past to justice.
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Reacher is absolutely a series for the streaming era. Its distinctly not-safe-for-TV brutal violence alone makes it an obvious choice for a streamer like Amazon. Still, there’s something in its formula that makes it feel like a show that could have worked well — with a few important tweaks — as a prime-time network procedural, wedged somewhere between Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Crossing Jordan, and Las Vegas.
The best counterpart, though, is surely NCIS. The episodic procedural has been running since 2003. It follows Naval Criminal Investigative Service Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs and his colorful team of crime solvers. They focus specifically on crimes involving the Navy and Marine Corps, offering a parallel to Reacher’s military police background.
Marvel’s Netflix series were much more grounded than the fantasy antics of the big screen Avengers. Among them were a couple of shows like Reacher. Luke Cage is big and strong, striking fear into his puny enemies, for instance. Jessica Jones feels especially of a kind with Reacher though. The two solve crimes by unconventional means and have the ability to crush their foes with little effort.
Jessica Jones has superpowers. She uses them, er, mostly for good as a private investigator. Of course, this is Marvel, so she’s not always up against run-of-the-mill foes. Mixing noir detective tropes and larger-than-life superheroics, Jessica Jones is a great complement to Reacher.
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An elite, retired former member of the military finds himself wrapped up in a criminal plot. He resists getting involved but realizes he’s needed and dusts off his considerable skills for one more mission. Yes, The Equalizer, based on the 80s TV show, has a familiar-sounding plot. Antoine Fuqua directs Denzel Washington in this gritty crime thriller that very much earns a place among movies like Reacher.
Robert McCall is trying to live a quiet life when he befriends a young sex worker named Teri at his favorite diner. When Teri’s pimp beats her up, McCall gets involved but soon finds himself up against the Russian mob and corrupt cops. McCall’s new enemies have no idea who they’re up against.
There’s something immediately enticing about highly-trained killers having to go it alone. It’s the starting point for tons of classic action movies. There’s Commando, Die Hard, Mission: Impossible, The Bourne Identity, John Wick, and many more. All of them, in their own ways, are movies like Reacher. Among them, 2011’s Haywire is a major standout.
Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire sees a black ops contractor burned by her team, set up by the people she trusted. A failed assassination attempt leaves her with no choice but to go after her former employers, using her expert skills to take them out one by one. She has to figure out who’s to blame, how they did it, and where to find them. I don’t envy anyone who gets in her way.
The comparison may not be immediately obvious, but there’s something distinctly Sherlock Holmesian about Reacher. He can briefly scan a room, or assess a person in front of him, and them immediately list elaborate details gleaned from the tiniest details the rest of us would likely miss entirely.
With that in mind, why not check out another spin on Holmes. CBS’ Elementary follows a contemporary Holmes, along with his trusty partner Dr. Joan Watson, as he solves crimes with his signature wits. Much like Reacher, Holmes isn’t a big fan of following procedure, which means he’s frequently at odds with local cops. That doesn’t generally stop him from cracking the case, though.
Fans of the CW’s supernatural detective series iZombie will likely recognize Reacher’s Malcolm Goodwin, who plays detective Clive Babineaux here. Goodwin plays a similar by-the-book lawman in Reacher, teaming up reluctantly with our unconventional hero. iZombie isn’t exactly a show like Reacher, but it has that significant overlap, along with a whodunnit format.
In iZombie, a young woman bitten and infected by a zombie has to eat human brains to keep from devolving into a thoughtless, dangerous ghoul driven only by hunger. To do this, she takes a job in the coroner’s office, where she has access to fresh food. There’s one hitch. When she eats a brain, she picks up memories from the deceased. That gives her unique insights into murders, which allows her to solve crimes for the local police, all while struggling to keep her secret.
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If you like the pulpy action and political intrigue of Reacher and the title character’s troubled military background, you may well enjoy the British miniseries Bodyguard.
Officer David Budd is an Afghanistan war veteran with PTSD and a mistrust of politicians. Despite that, he’s assigned protection duty for a member of parliament — whose politics he loathes — after heroically foiling a terrorism plot without letting anyone come to harm. With both Budd and his charge as targets, the two work together. Can Budd keep her alive? Can he protect himself and his own family?