Amazon Prime original series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan debuted its first season last week on the streamer. Based on characters from the “Ryan-verse” created by the late Tom Clancy, the series has been met with an overall positive response from fans who are enjoying the ride as well as critics who agree that the exceptional action and cast makes this latest installment in the Jack Ryan adapted universe a worthwhile watch.
On top of a successful launch, Jack Ryan earned a second season renewal before the first season even premiered. There are multiple reasons why this show is such a well-oiled machine, but what ultimately draws you into the series is John Krasinski taking on the iconic Tom Clancy character.
Krasinski’s well-known breakout role as Jim Halpert in The Office quickly cemented his flair for comedy in his fans’ eyes, but it wasn’t until his portrayal as Jack Silva in 2016’s 13 Hours, an intense military action feature about a true account of events that took place during the Battle of Benghazi, where audiences were exposed to a whole new side of Krasinski’s skillset, revealing he is so much more than just “the funny guy” who embodies the “sad emoji face”.
Krasinski is a hard and intelligent worker on the screen as well as behind it. His versatile talent could land him a role in any genre, which was solidified after Krasinski’s smash horror hit A Quiet Place that he directed, co-wrote, and starred in alongside his wife Emily Blunt. The intensity and emotion Krasinski brought to the feature cemented, especially in my mind, what makes Krasinski such a special performer.
Fleshing Out Jack Ryan
Tom Clancy’s iconic character has been adapted five times on the big screen, with the Amazon original being the first time the CIA analyst has appeared in a series format. The previous actors who have taken on the role include Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990), Harrison Ford in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears (2002), and finally, Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014).
What sets Krasinski apart from the others is his ability to capture everything that makes Jack Ryan such a great character. Baldwin, Ford, Affleck, and Pine each brought certain elements of Ryan to the table, but Krasinski offered the full meal. He has the charm and wit to pull off the every-day-guy aspect of an ex-marine who now works behind a desk at the CIA. He’s physically capable of holding his own in a combat situation, and at the same time, he can be sweet and funny and charming on top of struggling with PTSD.
Krasinski’s Ryan maintains a relatability even while portraying a hero and the smartest guy in the room. As Jack Ryan series co-creator Graham Roland told The Hollywood Reporter, Ryan is not a super spy like James Bond or Jason Bourne; he’s a highly intelligent guy who operates as a “classic hero” where his greatest obstacle is navigating his moral integrity in a world that is often amoral or sometimes immoral. Krasinski makes the character more tangible with his own intelligence and that humanistic quality, the earnestness and likability that draws viewers to him.
Ryan is not a perfect person but he always tries to do what’s right to protect others. Krasinski’s ability to connect on-screen with anyone he’s playing opposite of certainly helps the scene stealer. Whether it’s alongside Wendell Pierce, who plays Ryan’s CIA mentor James Greer, Abbie Cornish’s Dr. Cathy Mueller (Ryan’s love interest), antagonist Suleiman (played by Ali Suliman, or desperate and courageous mother Hanin portrayed by Dina Shihabi, Kransinski matches up to the great talent he is surrounded by and often times even elevates it with undeniable chemistry.
The show is about fleshing out all of these characters, which is part of the brilliance of finally having this character on a series instead of a two-hour movie. The story humanizes both the protagonists and the antagonists, and Krasinski’s performance brings out arguably the most fully-realized version of Ryan that fans could possibly ask for. You can’t help but root for Ryan, especially when he is portrayed by someone like John Krasinski.
Season one of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.