WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
When CIA analyst Jack Ryan stumbles upon a suspicious series of bank transfers his search for answers pulls him from the safety of his desk job and catapults him into a deadly game of cat and mouse throughout Europe and the Middle East, with a rising terrorist figurehead preparing for a massive attack against the US and her allies.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan has been immortalised on screen before. In Hunt for Red October, Alec Baldwin took on the role. Then Harrison Ford had a stab at the character in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Next Ben Affleck took up the mantle in Sum of All Fears and finally Chris Pine gave us Jack’s origin story in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
Each of these films takes a look at Jack in different times of his life and Amazon’s series - starring everyone’s favourite boyfriend, (Jim Halpert) John Krasinski - focuses on his time as a newbie CIA analyst who’s just a desk guy thrust into a dangerous field operation. Jack discovers some evidence that there could be a new terrorist on the rise and brings it to the attention of his new boss, who has been demoted to Jack’s office and is not receptive to this news.
One thing leads to another and Jack and his new boss, James Greer (Wendell Pierce, Suits) are off to Yemen, where Jack comes face to face with the series Big Bad, a radicalised Yemeni called Sheikh Suleiman.
Initially I rolled my eyes when I saw that this was just another brown terrorist plot which is starting to get tired. But this story is what Riz Ahmed refers to as the 2nd stage of stereotype storytelling, a story that “acknowledges the stereotype but engages with it and tries to subvert it”. But as a Muslim watching this it’s hard not to feel sad at how extremists have corrupted my religion.
The series opens up on a harrowing flashback to Suleiman’s childhood and continues to explore how he becomes radicalised and somehow this story is far more compelling than any scene our titular hero is in. For lack of a better word, Jack Ryan himself is well, a bit boring. For a character who has 5 movies and 21 novels written about him, you’d think he’d have a bit more personality. This is no fault of Krasinski’s because his acting is stellar but you find yourself hoping that some Jim would come shining through just a smidge.
READ MORE: John Krasinski's Jack Ryan is a classic hero
On contrast, Sheikh Suleiman’s character is fleshed out far more than anything we get on Jack Ryan. We’re given more of Suleiman’s history and he’s just given more of a personality. There are heart stopping moments when the story focuses on his family and how this radicalisation tears them apart. Despite this all the story is compelling and there is an odd side story surrounding a drone pilot which affects events in the main storyline but they never come into contact with the main characters.
The production value on this show is pretty high and you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for a movie. And while Jack Ryan is not the action hero you’d choose to come rescue you, because he is no Jason Bourne, he is the guy you want figuring all the clever things out that get you saved nonetheless.
WATCH TOM CLANCY'S JACK RYAN ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO NOW.