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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime: Right Up There




You've got to give Amazon credit, doing a new, rebooted Jack Ryan series, starring John Krasinski in the title role, after the likes of Harrison Ford, Alex Baldwin, Ben Affleck had knocked the role out the ballpark - well, certainly Harrison Ford - in a series of riveting movies from 1984 through 1996.  Sort of like what Amazon attempted when it brought Philip K. Dick's alternate history masterpiece novel The Man in the High Castle to the streaming television series screen with little-known actors.   And with the same result: both succeeded splendidly.

I haven't read any of Tom Clancy's novels, which I think is actually good when judging a movie or a television series based on the novels, because it allows appreciation of the movie or TV series on its own terms.   And my wife and I, binge-watching the eight Jack Ryan episodes in just two nights, really enjoyed this first season of this classic American spy-action story.

The trapping are familiar and updated - ISIS in Syria, attacking a church in Paris, and before the end of these episodes, bringing the fight to the U. S. homeland, with an ebola virus and a dirty bomb designed to wreak havoc.   But although this new Jack Ryan is reminiscent of both Jack Bauer and Homeland, with some Doron from Fauda thrown in, it has a pace and a heart all its own.

Jack is determined to not only save the day but do the right thing - as in trying to come through for the people around him on his commitments - for not only his friends but relative innocents caught up in the struggle.  His immediate boss, James Greer, is played by Wendell Pierce, who gives the best performance of his long career since The Wire.  Abbie Cornish is good as Dr. Cathy Mueller, who we know in a subsequent story will become Cathy Ryan or Mrs. Jack Ryan (Jack, by the way, is a Dr., too - a PhD in economics).  Ali Suliman as Suleiman is scathing, sensitive, and memorable as the terrorist mastermind.

There's humor, surprises, interludes of non-stop action and deaths - expected and unexpected - in just about every episode.  I'm ready for the second season, which I'll review here as soon as it's up on Amazon.

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