Since Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan first appeared on screen as Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October he’s been a big screen action hero in the form of Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine.
Now he’s a small screen star via John Krasinksi, better known for The Office and A Quiet Place. In what stands as the most surprising casting of Ryan yet, Krasiski leads an 8 part series for Amazon under producers Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland.
He remains a CIA analyst, working in the oddly-named Terror, Finance and Arms Division. In this universe we overlook that he became Deputy Director for Intelligence via Harrison Ford. Instead he is desk-bound, a former Marine and sole survivor of a helicopter crash. Both alert and alarmed, he detects the movement of $9m in Yemen which he believes traces back to a new terror insurgent, named Suleiman.
But his newly-installed department boss James Greer (Wendell Pierce) thinks Ryan has a chip on his shoulder and hoses down his hot-shot theory.
“A brand new Bin Laden on my first day?” he asks sceptically.
But Ryan is confident of his suspicions and urges Greer to freeze the funds.
It will take field operatives in Yemen chasing local terror suspects to prove his theory correct, whisking Jack Ryan away from a party where he first meets Dr. Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish) to an interrogation in Yemen itself.
“I can’t go to Yemen. I’m an analyst,” Ryan insists. I guess he hasn’t seen the movies, resistance is futile.
Fuelled by the character’s reluctance to turn matinee idol (hey, it’s what we’re here for), this Jack Ryan takes some time to get to its action scenes. But as a former Marine is that really viable?
Yes there are explosions and fisticuffs, including in dusty Middle East-locations, and it largely adheres to the demands of putting money on the screen.
Krasinski is likeable, if ‘adorkable,’ as the latest incarnation of Clancy’s character but has his work cut out to improve on Harrison Ford who was simultaneously smart, sexy and physically adept.
The biggest challenge for Jack Ryan is that we’ve seen so much of this before, not just as big screen versions, but in original TV tales with everything from 24 to Homeland and all manner of spy dramas in between.
Jack Ryan will probably have to turn things up to 11 just to stay on target.
Jack Ryan is now screening on Amazon Prime Video.