Having been a fan of Tom Clancy’s works since The Hunt for Red October, I will admit that there have been hits and misses over the years with this franchise. Transitions from film to television are never a sure thing, however, in the case of the Amazon Prime Video series, the cinematic approach taken for filming, along with the great cast assembled, made the first season an impressive one.
The second season begins some time after the events that took place during the first season. Right off the bat, we realize that Jack decided not to take Greer’s offer to join him in Moscow but from the look of things Jack is as relaxed as can be. Jack is now working for a Senator Moreno (played by Benito Martinez) who is also a good friend. Jack begins to get suspicious about activity occurring in Venezuela and he convinces Senator Moreno that it is worth a closer look. From there, things begin to kick off, and Jack finds himself enveloped in a far-reaching conspiracy that criss-crosses the globe.
John Krasinski is the fifth actor to take on the role of Jack Ryan and he has made the role of his own. His portrayal of Jack is multidimensional: part investigator, part ‘boy scout’, and part action hero. Jack has an unrelenting motivation to validate his hunches, which sometimes gets him into sticky situations, especially this season.
The character of James Greer (played by Wendell Pierce) is back, with his unpredictable and short tempered remarks. When Greer turns up, both he and Jack realize that they need to depend on each other even though they are polar opposites. Greer enjoys being out ‘in the field’ cultivating assets and playing the spy game, while Jack is comfortable identifying and analyzing threats. They may not like each other entirely but they trust and depend upon each other. Wendell Pierce was a fantastic choice to play Greer and his portrayal is a sharp contrast to the likes of the character’s portrayal by James Earl Jones in the film franchise.
While there are familiar faces returning for this second outing, there are also a few new characters. Naomi Rapace mixes things up with her character, Harriet ‘Harry’ Baumann. Rapace described ‘Harry’ as a self-reliant and complex person with a lot of layers during the series panel at New York Comic Con. The character runs into Jack early on in season 2 and over the course of the season I found her character very interesting as we learned more about her motivations and her endgame. Michael Kelly (House of Cards) joins as Mike November, a level-headed CIA field agent stationed in Venezuela. Kelly’s character, while a supposedly serious person, offered a few moments that were light-hearted, and this made his character more appealing. The additions of these 2 newcomers integrated well into the overall story as it developed over the season.
Another element that works well for this series is the approach the writers used to allow the characters to unfold at a measured pace, so that it does not appear to be rushed. The characters involved in the sub-plots may appear random at first but by the end of the season we find out how they all fit into the larger plot.
During the first season, we got a sense of the motivations behind the terrorist Suleman, the antagonist. We also got to see how he treated his family, which lead his wife to run away to save her daughter from a potential life where she would be forced to marry at a young age to an unsavory person. Without giving away spoilers, I will say that a similar approach is taken with the antagonists this season.
The events that take place in Jack Ryan are global in scale, and the series does not limit itself to one location or a control room with people looking at satellite images of a firefight.The action is played out on the screen in fine fashion, from firefights in jungles to foot chases through the streets of London. The studio did not spare any expense this season.
I wasn’t disappointed as I watched all eight episodes of the second season. The series has exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend adding Amazon Prime Video’s Jack Ryan to your viewing list.
The second season of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan premieres this Friday on Amazon Prime.
Update 10/31 – The folks at Amazon decided to release the series on day early. The announcement was made via Krasinski’s social channels in which immediately following his posting the series went live on Prime Video. Happy viewing!!