‘Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan’ pt. 1: a very flawed start

Amazon’s Jack Ryan series may have high production values, but the overall quality fails to match that halfway through the season, four out of eight episodes in.

A political action thriller, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is about the titular character portrayed by John Krasinski  and previously by Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine and Harrison Ford. The series’ story opts to be its own original thing rather than using the wide array of source material.

The basic plot of this series is Ryan, and his boss James Greer (portrayed by The Wire’s Wendell Pierce) are hunting for a terrorist named Suleiman whose goals are, well his overall goals aren’t exactly clear. In the four out of eight episodes, it’s really just been them trying to find the guy, and usually getting close, but failing at just the right moment for the bad guy to escape. There is also a subplot that is just pretty much filler, and really has ended up being very inconsequential all around.

The strongest episode for me thus far has been the pilot, and even then that is pretty flawed. I like Krasinski in the role, and I really do think he can be someone besides Jim Halpert from The Office, but the character himself just isn’t that likeable, and does remind me of Jim- he is supposed to be that ultra smart dude with military experience and a lot of education under his belt, but he just really isn’t that deep of a character. I like the rapport between Ryan and Greer, but Ryan is definitely no Jack Bauer- I would go so far to say that at some aspects he is incompetent. This certainly isn’t Mr. Krasinski’s fault, as Krasinski is given some really lame material to work with, such as the numerous times he states “don’t ignore me this guy is the next Bin Laden, this guy could do another 9/11” and there is just particular scenes that pull you out of the show completely, much like another Amazon series,” Bosch”- and there is several scenes of Krasinski being angry, but I just couldn’t buy it.

 There are some side characters that give fine performances, such Jack Ryan’s love interest Cathy (Abbie Cornish) but so far I really haven’t gotten to like any of the characters, except Suleiman and another plot centered in the middle-east.

I will not name the actor who portrays Suleiman as it is a spoiler, but I really do think he is one of the best parts of the series thus far, and it also does a “24” type thing of not just focusing on the good guys, but also focusing on Suleiman and his family. While I said earlier I do not know what his goal is, he has a very interesting backstory, and his motivations are clear, but thus far they haven’t shown him much, and the conventional way they reveal who he is just upset me with how I didn’t see it coming. That being said, I definitely liked his wife and kids the most, as they are portrayed well as just innocent people getting caught up in a lot of violence, and just want to get the heck out of there- but this has been seen before in many other shows like Jack Ryan.

Really, the plot so far is 90 percent of the time just plain stupid. The good guys, especially Ryan, really make dumb decision after decision, seemingly always at the perfect time so that drama and intensity can be brought up vastly inorganically to drag things along. and that is where the unimpressive action is- being a military vet, Ryan does not seem to know what he is doing.

So far, Tom Clancy’s/Amazon’s Jack Ryan is incredibly by the numbers, and I’ve seen all the plots and ideas done before, and done in a much better way. Regardless of the names attached to it and the high production values, this show is very run of the mill procedural fluff that I could easily see being on CBS or something. It’s kind of funny considering how much Amazon beat everyone over the head and advertised to no end about this show, and it has just been super bland so far.  I suspect diehard fans of Clancy’s work are offended that this show has the Tom Clancy name attached to it. I really do hope for everyone’s sake that this show gets good in the second half, but while it has some enjoyable aspects, it really is very forgettable.