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Monday, December 26, 2022

Jack Ryan 3: On the Edge of Your Seat, In a World Both Better and Worse than Ours



I binged the third season of Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime Video -- and let me say how good it is to binge rather than watch a TV series on the old-fashioned weekly basis -- and also say that I thought this was the best of three new Jack Ryan screen forays.  Which is to say, I thought the action was great, the plot complex and surprising and even profound at times, and the overall narrative excellent.

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

The enemy is a Russia quite familiar to us.  Luka (a very major character, very well played by James Cosmo) laments that, in Russia, "We don't build things anymore, we build lies."  This is a tragically apt description of Putin.  And the villain (not Luka) yearns and is working for a restoration of the Soviet Union.  But though there's a fleeting, unclear reference to Ukraine, it soon becomes clear that Ryan is dealing with a very different kind of Russia than we all are dealing with off-screen.

In fact, in Jack Ryan 3, the man in charge seems more like Gorbachev, and it's the young Defense Minister who would start World War III if that would enable the return of the Soviet Union.  There are good and bad players and in between on both sides of this escalating tension, in Russia, the U.S., and central Europe, where most of the action takes place.  More than enough to keep you guessing, and they are all well played.

My favorites, in addition to Luka, are Wendell Pierce back as James Greer (who hasn't "been in Moscow many times"), Michael Kelly as Mike November (great name, and at least a dozen or more prime wisecracks), Nina Hoss as Alena Kovac (President of the Czech Republic), and Peter Guinness as Petr her father. There've been a long line of Jack Ryans on screen, going back to Alec Baldwin, and proceeding to Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine.  At this point, John Krasinski is at least as good as Pine, which is high praise.

Considering the shape our world is currently in, seeing what Jack Ryan has to contend with -- no Putin in power, no COVID -- is almost a relief.  But Jack Ryan 3 manages to make the end of the world seem more harrowingly at hand.  It keeps you on the edge of your seat and the series in top form.

See also Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime: Right Up There ... Jack Ryan 2: Fascism Loses -- At Least, In This Story


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