Your best chance is to select Reacher over Ryan if you have to choose between action series with Jack-named characters.
There was a quick exchange in Jack Ryan’s debut season that put the titular agent’s devotion to the CIA to the test. Ryan, as portrayed by John Krasinski, was explicitly questioned about how he could work for an organisation that had a lengthy history of, to put it mildly, questionable behaviour. He responded that he thought he could mend it better from the inside than the outside, at least at the time (since this has been mostly forgotten since then). To put it mildly, that was a questionable response that he didn’t even appear to accept. He continued still without giving it much consideration, gaining the moniker “Boy Scout” that was given to him by many. Ryan could have done better to think more deeply about who he was working for and what might happen if he ran afoul of their interests before entering a third season with even higher stakes than before that puts him in the firing line. That could have made this season’s emphasis on treachery and backstabbing more interesting than others that came before it. This is regrettably not the case.
This time, we pick up with Ryan still employed in Rome and engaging in his typical espionage antics. He physically gets tossed out of a location where he shouldn’t be, but he picks himself up and prepares to deliver a presentation about what he calls the “Sokol Project.” This explanation is likewise a little difficult to take seriously, even if it isn’t nearly as forced as the one he offered to support the storyline in Season 2. In essence, Ryan claims that this phrase relates to a scheme to revive the Soviet Union. This is not anything that is true and is a fabrication of the programme to add suspense, as anyone who has even read a basic history book will tell you. Wouldn’t you know it, Ryan begins to hear that this project is being attempted to be relaunched right after he finishes his presentation. He will now have to work with his fellow officer, CIA Officer James Greer, who is portrayed by the consistently excellent Wendell Pierce, to attempt to put together what is taking place. But after one of his missions goes horribly wrong, Ryan is forced to flee after being falsely charged with treason. He will thus have to work in secret if he is to stop what, in his opinion, may spark a world war.
The issue with a programme like Jack Ryan is that it never has exciting enough action to keep your interest or, when that fails, is ready to go the additional mile to be sharper in its attempt to be a political thriller. This is something that the third season of the show has highlighted. While there must be some flare, stories like these don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel and can enjoy themselves by messing with tradition. Whatever your opinion of the Mission: Impossible films, we are usually treated to seeing Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt performing daring exploits. There is always a sense of excitement in what he will get up to next, whether it is in the little space of a restroom or leaping from ever-higher places. It makes sense that they can’t work on this size since this is television, not movies. Having said that, the most recent season of Reacher (also available on Prime Video) demonstrated how creative ingenuity can make up for any financial constraints. This fight pales in comparison to the series’ most memorable toilet battle. Even when we see Ryan engaging in lengthy vehicle chases, midnight infiltration missions, and occasional shootouts, it is all produced in a manner that is simply too static. It doesn’t feel as tight as it thinks it does, and it all starts to blend together.
The numerous performers that have been collected for this season are responsible for the sporadic moments of fascination that we do experience. Along with the aforementioned Pierce, Michael Kelly plays Mike November, a former coworker who would make a good buddy pair in their own movie. Beyond these, there are several embellishments that make a valiant effort to give the narrative anything resembling an emotional core. Most prominent among them is the underused Nina Hoss as Alena Kovac, the Czech Republic’s President who gets entangled in the situation. Without giving too much away, there is a scene when she manages to express a lot of feeling in a little period of time when Alena witnesses unexpected violence. Anyone who has seen her modest portrayal in this year’s great movie TR will understand that she is capable of doing a lot with very little. But one still wishes she had been given more resources to work with.
On the other hand, Krasinski is still limited in what he can accomplish with a lot. He occasionally makes jokes or exhibits a glimmer of passion when ranting into a phone, and it is a passable performance. However, when examining a similar show like Reacher, the job begs for someone with Alan Ritchson’s more understated and sneaky appeal. Simply put, Krasinski lacks the skills to portray a gripping action hero or a cunning foe. With a show like this, it’s a popular refrain to say that one may watch it as background noise while doing chores around the home or the laundry. This is a really low threshold, though, and necessitates grading on a curve that merely puts too much pressure on one’s critical integrity. When it works well, there is some enjoyable fluff that could occasionally cause you to momentarily get out of your chair. However, without any enthusiasm for the specifics to go beyond that, it mainly merely repeats a circle of circular conspiracies. Even while the conclusion tries to explain more, it does so much too late. It’s not that Jack Ryan ever held back; rather, it’s just that he never intended to swing so hard in the first place.
Starting on December 21, you can watch all eight episodes of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime.