I’m Just an Analyst (Series Review: “Jack Ryan: Season 1”)

The CIA Analyst turned Warrior gets the job done in an exciting series that breathes new life into a well-worn book & movie franchise.

SnapShot Plot

Although a bit mainstream for this reviewer, it’s fair to say that the first season of Jack Ryan lives up to its hype. In fact it fares quite well in comparison to the bestselling books by Tom Clancy and the follow-up movies starring Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and more recently, Chris Pine in the title role of the CIA analyst who gets dragged into undercover counter-terrorism operations on the highest level.

John Krasinski, whose career began as the shaggy-dog character of Jim Halpert on The Office, has emerged in recent years as an appealing leading man and action hero whose boy-next-door looks and self deprecating charm make him approachable and appealing to a wide and mixed audience. He’s well cast in the role of Jack Ryan, an ex-Marine suffering from PTSD and survivor’s guilt, currently sitting in a cubicle at the CIA analyzing wire transfers across the globe in search of patterns of activity that may connote dubious dealings among terrorist organizations and cells.

When Ryan becomes suspicious about large sums of money appearing and disappearing between shell accounts in the Middle East, he rings the alarm to his new boss, James Greer (played by Wendell Pierce), a bitter and charmless character whose half-halfhearted interest in Jack’s analysis deepens as the evidence mounts. The money trail seems to lead to one man, and if the theory pans out, the U.S. government might just be on the trail of the next Bin Laden. The terrorist leader at the center of the plot (played to soulful yet evil perfection by Israeli actor, Ali Suliman) goes by the name of Suleiman, whose devotion to his own family and (even more deeply) his younger brother belies the utter ruthlessness at the heart of his master plan against the highest branches of the U.S. leadership and its allies. When his wife, Hanin (emotionally played by Saudi born but Julliard trained actress Dina Shihabi) fears the worst about her husband’s nefarious activities, her next steps set in motion a global game of cat and mouse that keep this 8-part series a nail biter to the end.

Parting Shot

This would be a good time to binge Season 1 of Jack Ryan, as the second season is dropping on November 1st. And with the addition of Swedish actress and original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, the action sequences will be sure to inspire an adrenaline rush, as she has proven herself capable to any male counterpart in the white knuckle thrill category. Also joining the new cast is House of Cards’ alumnus, Michael Kelly, joined by an impressive assortment of international actors.

There’s an element of reassuring familiarity to the Jack Ryan series, which I suspect also runs throughout the books and movies, too. Yes, we’ve got all the twists and turns inherent in an action-packed espionage genre, but despite those (expected) sweeping plot developments, the characters themselves remain mostly steadfast in their depictions. In other words, you can bank on them. And if there’s a character reversal in this series, it’ll take you by surprise, as it should. Connected to that is an overriding sense of decency to the show, mostly written into the character of Ryan himself, and probably residing as well in the actor playing him. I’ve long thought that John Krasinski might just be the Jimmy Stewart of his generation, and time will tell if that proves true. But like Stewart, what he projects is an American Everyman type, a guy who doesn’t need to ponder the moral conundrums, even though he may be tortured by outside forces and even act in ways his conscience deems abhorrent. . . you know he’ll suffer for it later.

Jack Ryan is presently streaming on Amazon Prime.

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YouTube Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hw1S1hf06VU

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