I’m not usually a fan of espionage or terrorist fiction. I’m aware of Tom Clancy’s character Jack Ryan from a movie or two. Alec Baldwin didn’t impress me. Harrison Ford did. As for the tv series, now that I’ve binge-watched it today, it seems like the actor playing the title role didn’t impress people, but the supporting cast did. I think that’s about right. But I’m not sure it’s wrong.
As I’ve strayed into streaming tv, I find myself impressed with the creativity, the cinematography, the acting, and a lot of things that make network tv seem Mesozoic in comparison–and I don’t mean Jurassic Park big bang.
Streaming tv, for one thing, isn’t bound by timetables, especially fitting into an hour minus advertising. So a tale can be told the way writers and directors want to tell it. The way they want to tell Jack Ryan is to get inside the head, heart, and motivations of a terrorist. In eight episodes, we get to know his wife, brother, and children quite well. The title character somewhat, but the writers play that closer to the vest. Plus, maybe John Krasinski isn’t the most charismatic screen presence. But maybe in the era of computers, deep thinkers, and institutional government, somebody noticeable would be, well, too noticeable as a spy. We get to see some chinks in Jack Ryan’s armor as the season unfolds.
Some little subplots worked, like the French police captain. Others, like the S&M cul-de-sac with a stateside soldier in Las Vegas, not so much.
The most alarming moment was the realization at the end of episode seven, and while the menace continues through the final forty-some minutes, there’s not a catastrophe-stop button pushed with one second left on the clock. Not exactly saving-the-world stuff, but the creators wisely left that to the superhero films. And James Bond.
Better than average tv. A solid B. I red-marked two of the three sex scenes, and less attention given to Jack Ryan’s backstory than to the big bad. The latter I can understand. Maybe they figure he gets a few more seasons to unfold. I feel like I should want to hate the Amazon behemoth just for being so big. But their tv isn’t bad. Half the game, I guess. Next up: Man In the High Castle.