Halftime Leisure

Perfecting the Spy Thriller: Jack Ryan Returns to Prime Video

November 12, 2019


Last Thursday, Amazon Prime released season two of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan starring John Krasinski. Set in Venezuela, the show follows Ryan (John Krasinski) and his former boss Jim Greer’s (Wendell Pierce) investigation into corruption in the Venezuelan government and an illegal mining operation bankrolled by the Venezuelan president. But this season, Ryan isn’t a CIA analyst—he’s a legislative aide who comes to Venezuela with his boss and friend Senator Jim Moreno (Benito Martinez) to diplomatically address the situation with the corrupt President Reyes (Jordi Molla). But things go awry when Reyes uses Max Schenkel (Tom Wlaschiha—yes, Jaqen H’ghar), a former German spy turned hitman, to assassinate the senator. The rest of the season follows Ryan and Greer’s mission to expose President Reyes for his involvement in Senator Moreno’s death and the mining operation that may have international economic and political consequences.

Fast-paced, action-packed, and with a brilliant cast, the show is a thrill to watch just like the previous season. Krasinski once again shows us how versatile an actor he is. It’s hard for a lot of actors to transition so drastically from previously iconic roles, but Krasinski expertly manages to leave behind his lovable, goofy Jim Halpert from The Office and become brooding, tortured Jack Ryan. Some people, like my roommate, say it’s because of his new beard, but I think he’s just extremely talented. He gets even better this season, as his character becomes much more relatable to viewers. Ryan is not just an analyst tracking the money trail of a terrorist cell like in season one, he’s a guy whose friend was brutally killed in front of him and he wants justice. 

As with any spy movie or TV show, Jack Ryan has an element of improbability. No audience wants something in this genre to be an accurate reflection of reality, but they do expect it to be within certain bounds. No one assumes a 53-year-old can dangle off a flying plane without a harness, but it’s okay when Tom Cruise does so in Mission: Impossible because it doesn’t seem too far off from how we imagine his character’s abilities. That’s why the climax scene where Ryan and a few CIA black-ops agents storm the Venezuelan presidential palace in a helicopter, guns blazing, seems so brazenly unnatural—it defies the limits of what’s acceptable in the spy genre today. It’s okay in straight action movies like Olympus Has Fallen, but spy films that want to be taken seriously shouldn’t. The US has a history of meddling in other countries—especially in Latin America—and I don’t know if a US legislative aide putting a gun to the head of the president of a sovereign nation in his own palace is the most logical choice for this show’s climax. The whole time, it seems like the show wants to portray Ryan as rational and analytical, but then it justs gives all of that up and paints him to be so careless and impulsive. 

Regardless of how crazy the end was, it was equally as addictive. Once I started watching, I couldn’t stop until I finished it. The show takes a lot of risks, but in the end, they pay off. In eight 40-minute episodes, the show gives viewers a tight plot, fantastic acting, and amazing cinematography. There aren’t any of the tangential plot lines that riddled the last season: every minute of screen time serves a purpose. It might be a little bonkers, but at least it entertains.

Chetan Dokku
Chetan is a senior in the College studying economics and English. He likes to track every piece of media he consumes in multiple formats. He was previously a Halftime Leisure and Leisure Editor and is now a copy assistant.

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