The Roar

Review: Jack Ryan

Has Amazon hit the jackpot with their new action thriller in the form of the iconic Tom Clancy character?

Every year the bloated, super rich film and television industry pumps out a few action thrillers shows full of big explosions, intense fist fights, and game changing plot twists. These shows are so common in today’s age that they often get lumped into the same pile and few rise above the pack. The last spy action thriller to prove itself was Homeland. But now, Amazon might have a show to rival some of the best action shows in recent memory, and it comes in the form of Jack Ryan.

Tom Clancy’s iconic C.I.A. analyst hit the small screen for the first time on Aug. 31. The “American James Bond,” as he is sometimes called, has appeared in five Hollywood films since 1990, and has been portrayed by such greats as Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford. The new Jack Ryan show boasts a new actor, John Krasinski. Krasinski makes his first appearance on T.V. since his role as Jim on The Office. He was offered the role of Jack Ryan mostly because of his performance in Michael Bay’s 13 Hours, where Krasinski played a similar character.

The story follows Ryan when he stumbles upon a suspicious series of bank transfers that pulls him from the safety of his desk job and thrusts him into a dangerous cat and mouse game across Europe and the Middle East with a rising terrorist leader who is planning a devastating attack against the U.S. and its allies. Along the way, Ryan negotiates a new boss, James Greer, and a new girlfriend, Cathy Mueller, who are also characters from the Tom Clancy books.

Things that were good: As far as action and drama goes, the show does very well, with increasingly dangerous missions and events as the season goes on that culminate in a pulse pounding climax. The show also brings a unique view, by following the main terrorist and developing his character so viewers can see how a young boy from Syria is changed and turned into a radical. The big thing that the show succeeds at is realism. The locations are plausible, and it shows strategies that real terrorists use to carry out attacks. The way that the C.I.A. operates is very realistic, and the way that they deal with defending attacks is spot on.

Things that were not good: The show has periods where it gets a little slow, and it feels like the characters are just sort of waiting for the next action sequence to come around. The pilot episode is a little slow in that sense, but it picks up as the season goes on. At times, the dialog is a little flat and could use a little more zip, A) because that is more believable to how these people would talk, and B) because it generally makes the dialog more interesting. For all the show’s realism, there are only one or two moments where, for the sake of pushing the plot forward, they make things a little farfetched. It isn’t that big of problem, but if you’re paying attention, it can stick out a little bit.

With this in mind, we revert to an important question: Is Jack Ryan the next Homeland? The answer is “not really.” That’s not to say that the show isn’t good; it’s actually a good, solid, action thriller. However, it a little less like Homeland than I had anticipated. There is more action and less tradecraft and actual spy work, which doesn’t make it worse, it just makes it different.

Jack Ryan may not be the next big show of the decade, but it succeeds in its goal of being a realistic spy – action show that delivers on plot twists and action scenes. So, if you have an interest in this subject, have any desire to go into the intelligence community, or just need a new show to watch this fall, don’t miss the Amazon original Jack Ryan.

My Final Score for season 1 of Jack Ryan: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

My Scale:

5 Stars: Excellent

4 Stars: Great

3 Stars: good

2 Stars: OK

1 Star: bad

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