TOM CLANCY’S JACK RYAN

Let’s play Only Con­nect! What’s miss­ing from the fol­low­ing se­quence? Bald­win-ford-miss­ing-pine-krasin­ski?

Empire (UK) - - CONTENTS - JONATHAN PILE

★★★

AMA­ZON PRIME VIDEO OUT NOW EPS VIEWED 4 OF 8

CRE­ATED BY Carl­ton Cuse, Gra­ham Roland CAST John Krasin­ski, Wen­dell Pierce, Ab­bie Cor­nish, Ali Suli­man, Dina Shi­habi

PLOT While track­ing some shady mon­e­tary trans­ac­tions, CIA agent Jack Ryan (Krasin­ski) un­cov­ers ev­i­dence of a pre­vi­ously un­known ter­ror­ist, who he be­lieves could be the next Bin Laden. De­spite his mis­giv­ings about be­ing in the field, he’s brought in to take him down. WHAT IS IT about Jack Ryan? This se­ries marks the fifth new ac­tor to play Tom Clancy’s CIA agent which, while hardly on a par with, say, Ham­let in the mul­ti­ple in­ter­pre­ta­tions stakes, is still pretty good go­ing. Cer­tainly, he’s been re­booted with enough reg­u­lar­ity to sug­gest Hol­ly­wood (and now TV) ex­ecs be­lieve he has the po­ten­tial to hit big, even if the two most re­cent at­tempts prior to this have fiz­zled out with­out man­ag­ing to spark a fran­chise.

The lat­est Jack Ryan is John Krasin­ski, which ini­tially seems like an off­beat choice. Es­pe­cially if you’re most fa­mil­iar with him as Jim (the US equiv­a­lent of Martin Free­man’s Tim) from The Of­fice: An Amer­i­can Work­place. But it turns out to be a cast­ing mas­ter­stroke — Krasin­ski is per­fect as the desk-bound CIA an­a­lyst un­will­ingly thrown into field work. Es­pe­cially as he’s at home with the nerdier el­e­ments of the char­ac­ter that Har­ri­son Ford (Pa­triot Games; Clear And Present Dan­ger) and Chris Pine (Jack Ryan: Shadow Re­cruit) strug­gled to con­vince with. And that Ben Af­fleck (The Sum Of All Fears) couldn’t get close to.

The set-up (for Ryan afi­ciona­dos) is pretty stan­dard — although up­dated to re­flect present world peace-keep­ing con­cerns. As in The Hunt For Red Oc­to­ber (Ryan is an ex­pert on the trai­tor­ous Soviet sub cap­tain) and The Sum Of All Fears (Ryan has writ­ten a pa­per about the sur­prise new Rus­sian premier), Ryan is here brought into the field be­cause he’s the only man who un­der­stands the data that un­cov­ered new Is­lamic ac­tivist Suleiman (Suli­man). Of course, he’s just an an­a­lyst in the same way Steven Sea­gal was “just a cook” in Un­der Siege. A for­mer Marine, he gave it up af­ter an in­ci­dent in

a war­zone (de­tails of which are left tan­ta­lis­ingly vague, pre­sum­ably for a re­veal fur­ther down the line) that left him badly in­jured and happy to switch to of­fice work. What it does mean, is that he’s com­bat-ready should the sit­u­a­tion arise. Which it quickly does. And Krasin­ski doesn’t let us down here, ei­ther — con­vinc­ing with a gun in his hands in a man­ner that de­mands he’s con­sid­ered for more of these roles.

All of which is ex­tremely promis­ing, but where Jack Ryan stum­bles is in its B and C sto­ries, ded­i­cat­ing far too much time to ap­par­ently in­ci­den­tal char­ac­ters to bulk out the run­ning time. Per­haps the plot thread that sees the wife of the main an­tag­o­nist try­ing to es­cape the ter­ror­ist com­pound with their kids will pay off in a mean­ing­ful way, but as it’s hap­pen­ing it feels like a 24-style time filler (the kind seen while Jack Bauer was trav­el­ling be­tween lo­ca­tions).

It’s the only real mis­step, but it be­gins to hurt the flow of the episodes. Oth­er­wise this is a de­cent be­gin­ning, and one that’s ad­mirably non-flag wav­ing. While 24 was a re­flec­tion of its time, with its Bush-era ter­ror­ism fear­mon­ger­ing (cheer as Jack Bauer tor­tures in­for­ma­tion out of a sus­pect!), Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan doesn’t fall into step with its cur­rent gov­ern­ment — it un­der­stands the United States’ role in cre­at­ing many of its en­e­mies. And what’s more, the se­ries re-imag­ines Ryan’s boss Jim Greer (Wen­dell Pierce) as Mus­lim. That re­ally doesn’t feel like Trump’s Amer­ica.

VER­DICT

A solid but frus­trat­ing start for a se­ries that would be well ad­vised to keep its fo­cus on its ti­tle star. But John Krasinksi is a rev­e­la­tion.

Clock­wise from above: Search and de­stroy: CIA agent Jack Ryan (John Krasin­ski) and CIA op­er­a­tive James Greer (Wen­dell Pierce) are on a mis­sion; Hanin (Dina Shi­habi) lives in fear of her life, hav­ing fled from her Is­lamic ac­tivist hus­band; Is­lamic ac­tivist Suleiman (Ali Suli­man) is a wanted man; Dr Cathy Muller (Ab­bie Cor­nish) will see you now.

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