3.5/10 Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” or as I like to call it, “Diet Homeland” had potential but ultimately falls flat and underwhelms. Amazon Prime got a late start to the original streaming game and as one of their first big action shows, they have proven that they need time to learn and grow. Don’t get me wrong, for every great Netflix show (“Mindhunter”) there are 10 awful original movies to wade through. But studios like Marvel and Netflix spent years planning, growing and investing in film makers to expand their content and improve upon their original slates. Amazon has a long way to go. There are several problems that plague this show, or at least this season of the show (I will find out soon if season 2 steps up their game). The biggest obstacle is Jack Ryan himself. John Krasinski is a fine actor and definitely has the physicality for this part. However, it is how the character is written that becomes problematic. He lacks charisma, charm, humor and likability as he walks around with RBF and is one of the blandest characters on the show. He lacks the suave nature of James Bond, the raw intensity of Jack Bauer, the charisma of Ethan Hunt. The character, like the overarching plot of the show, is rather forgettable. His struggles with PTSD help develop him but his PTSD is shown in a generic way, only affecting him at 3AM. Films like “Thank You for Your Service” dive much deeper into the PTSD and are far more emotionally impactful than anything seen here. It feels like the writers read “PTSD for Dummies” instead of interviewing veterans with PTSD. I feel bad for Krasinski since his talent far outweighs the screenwriting given to him. The plot is rather generic although I did enjoy that they spent as much time in the Middle East as they did in the States. One character, a drone operator, was introduced like he would be a consistent supporting character in the show but after three episodes, they completely abandon his character and subplot. You could have taken his subplot out of the show completely and it wouldn’t have changed anything at all. The romantic aspects of the show didn’t do much for me and there were several poorly written lines of dialogue or inconsistent character moments. For example, the great Wendell Pierce plays James Greer, probably the best character and most multi layered in the entire season. In the first episode he is shown to be a hard ass who calls Ryan into his office and tears into him. Yet in the second episode, Ryan talks back and is rather disrespectful and Greer just takes it without fighting back, which felt very inconsistent. Is Greer a bulldog or a doormat? We don’t know because he keeps jumping back and forth between the two, depending upon what needs to happen in the episode. Jack Ryan’s character is also a Mary Sue. We know he was in the Marine Corps and is an intelligent analyst but we don’t know how he has so many extra sets of skills that your average Marine/analyst would not have. We are just supposed to believe he is extra special for some reason. The final episode sees the President, Vice President and dozens of Congressional officials in the same hospital, a security risk that would NEVER happen, making the main terrorist’s plan rather unbelievable. As I watched the brief opening credits, I thought the score sounded eerily similar to HBO’s “Westworld”. A quick glance on IMDB revealed that composer Ramin Djawadi (who has done his best work on “Game of Thrones”) also scored “Westworld” and got a little lazy with the show’s theme here. His overall score wasn’t memorable and fell short of his brilliant work on “Game of Thrones”. As for what did work with the show, the acting overall is fine and the pacing was excellent. Episodes don’t drag on for too long and you are entertained the entire time. Most of the episodes end with a big climactic action set piece which was impressive to have so many of the episodes end on high, exciting notes like that. There were no filler episodes as the eight episodes tell one, distinct story. The show has potential but lived up to none of it in its debut season. I hope they hired some better writers for season 2, which I will be reviewing next month with much lower expectations.
#IgnorableBosses / #AllahAloha / #PromisedBland / #LeatherNecks / #AGoodFear / #InTheRearWithTheGreer