Jack Ryan: Worthy of Its Precedents


Image used under fair use law

The Jack Ryan story seems like a series that has been going on forever. Starting in 1984 with Tom Clancy’s best-selling novel series, and spurring five film adaptations with four different actors playing the lead character (including big-name actors Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine), the series has received nothing but acclaim. Recently, Amazon Video has decided to pull the series out of its respite with their new television release, featuring a fifth actor taking over the protagonist role: The Office star John Krasinski.

In Amazon’s adaptation, Jack Ryan is a CIA analyst that observes global finances related to counterterrorism. One day, he catches tail of suspicious bank transfers being carried out by a man named Mousa Bin Suleiman in Yemen. Ryan is thrown into the field in the CIA’s search for Suleiman and their attempt to stay one step ahead of an international terrorist. The story also follows Suleiman’s wife, Hanin, as she realizes the extent of her husband’s actions and flees Yemen with her children.

It’s daring to compare anything to the success of the James Bond franchise, but this new show is worth the comparison. Amazon’s Jack Ryan is exhilarating and thrilling to watch, and there was never a dull moment in the whole program. While it mainly focuses on the action and adventure genre, the series also had a good balance of comedy, drama, and some romance. Each episode had its fair share of excitement, and each episode also felt completely unique in its plot and substance. This new story is simply exciting to watch unfold, and offers a new take on this classic series.

Main character Jack Ryan is somewhat of a typical television hero. He has a tragic backstory, a certain amount of charm, and is, at times, surrounded by mystery. Nevertheless, it’s hard to not get attached to the character with his selfless nature and occasionally awkward social ability. It is Ryan’s quick-thinking and courageous personality that, in the end, saves the day and adds an addition dauntless component to the series.

Like a lot of action/adventure movies and television shows, Jack Ryan is not always realistic with its portrayal of violence and fighting. But these sort of shows do a great job portraying the thought process behind terrorism and other acts of violence. As a watcher, it’s easy to find interest in Suleiman’s beliefs and reasoning, and it’s easy to feel pity for him as he navigates his famital issues. Despite Suleiman being an antagonist and clearly evil, he still is a dynamic and round character who consistently offers thought-provoking content when his story is told. There’s nothing worse in a show than a static villain, but thankfully the Jack Ryan series offers the opposite.

For the first time as a television series, the Jack Ryan story transfers fairly well to a new platform. One of the flaws in Amazon’s adaptation, however, is how this new version of the story works with the previous big-screen pictures. The Jack Ryan movies that have come before are consistent with each other in Ryan’s background, position in the CIA, and experience in the field, but this new release offers a differing perspective. Instead of having experience with action and being used to saving others on the daily, Amazon’s Jack Ryan is desk-stricken and surprised when called to combat. While it makes for entertaining television, this small discrepancy makes the series seem incompatible with its previous releases and sadly discontinues the Jack Ryan tradition of uniformity.

Despite this, Jack Ryan is certainly worthy of its precedents. Amazon Video has already announced the release of a second season, and there is no doubt it will reach the same level of praise as its prequel. With its thrilling action, gripping plot, and charismatic characters, this is definitely a show to tune in to.