Warning: Spoilers ahead
Over Labor Day weekend, Amazon Studios released “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” and it was everything you would expect of the studio’s take on the American action-thriller franchise. Jack Ryan, a financial analyst for the CIA, time after time gets wrenched from his desk to stop major terrorist organizations and save the world. Predictable? Yup. Worth watching? That depends.
In the latest installment, John Krasinski portrayed Ryan and joined Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. Throughout the eight-part Amazon series, Jack Ryan uses his military training and analytical skills to try and stop Suleiman, a rising Islamic terrorist, after being tipped off by a string of high profile banking transfers.
Like all Jack Ryan movies, “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” pulls viewers in with the promise of thrilling fight scenes, hair raising turning points, and a back story that viewers can’t help but eat up, especially when it’s coming from Krasinski.
However, this wasn’t the case. The plot was for the most part predictable and even with his good looks and familiarity playing the soldier type-- as he did expertly in “13 Hours”-- Krasinski failed to really bring the series home.
Still, Amazon’s production wasn’t a total bust. This series perhaps made up for this predictability in the small modern updates they added to the well-worn plot.
The series did a decent job humanizing both heroes and villains. One subplot involves a drone pilot struggling with killing targets from a distance, rather than having the personal but more dangerous experience of being one set of boots on the ground, risking his life and not just taking them.
Similarly, Suleiman has a family and a backstory just as tragic as Jack Ryan. He’s not just a caricature of a terrorist wreaking havoc just because. There’s a rhyme and reason to his horrific actions and while it doesn’t excuse murder, it does make for a more interesting character and plot.
The way that children are used throughout this series was also interesting mainly because they weren’t used just to humanize Soleiman or Jack Ryan. Instead, they are thrust into the world of war, propaganda and survival-- a world in which everyone has to take a side and risk their lives for it. These children prove the impressionability of youth and how, unlike their fathers, they don’t get to live long enough to see their mistakes become their backstory.
Amazon’s installment also brought in modern elements that help to set “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” apart from previous films. In the interest of not spoiling too much, online gaming chats and biological terrorism play big roles in making the series interesting. In a genre where most of the big fights involve car chases, shootouts and ticking time bombs, the uses of these devices added some nuance to an otherwise predictable plot.
While I wouldn’t bump “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” to the top of your watchlist, I would recommend keeping it in the back of your mind for a rainy day if not for the nuanced elements, then for a chance to see Krasinski in action.
Alex Taylor is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.