Monday, September 3, 2018

Pilot Review: Jack Ryan

Jack Ryan (Amazon)
Premiered August 31

This is actually my first encounter with the character of Jack Ryan. I know that he was the subject of three early 1990s films starring Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, and then a 2002 film with Ben Affleck, and I had forgotten about the existence of the 2014 incarnation with Chris Pine. I saw so many short advertisements for Amazon’s foray into the popular book series by Tom Clancy featuring Abbie Cornish’s Cathy asking John Krasinski’s Jack about how supply chain logistics must be so boring with clips of him being completely in the action overseas on my flight to Los Angeles earlier this week, and was hoping that there would be a bit more to this premiere. It turns out that there isn’t, and it feels like this show is far from a twenty-first century update of the classic action hero. It actually seems like it’s from right out of the 1990s, not quite as dated but hardly informed by the many lackluster forays into this genre. He’s just an analyst who gets plucked out of his comfortable desk life because of his intellectual prowess, but of course he’s actually been trained and is more than combat-ready. Krasinski, best known for “The Office” and now for directing the horror film “A Quiet Place,” is perfectly well-suited to play this part, as is Wendell Pierce from “The Wire” and “Treme,” but this show doesn’t feel vital or all that energetic. I’m tempted to give it a second shot because I feel I could like it, but it seems all too much like the kind of procedural that streaming services haven’t yet been producing nearly as much as the broadcast networks.

How will it work as a series? There’s no way the Jack is going back to a desk job after this. What his role will be exactly isn’t clear, though he got quite the promotion by being allowed to interrogate an alleged bodyguard all by himself without any prior experience. We can expect similarly unbelievable developments in future episodes, to make sure that Jack is as exciting a protagonist as possible.
How long will it last? Quality doesn’t necessarily equal viewership on Amazon, not that that kind of data is readily available. The reviews are mostly good, and the marketing has been very extensive on this show. I’d predict a renewal very soon – it would be very surprising if that didn’t happen for some reason.

Pilot grade: B-

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