If it feels like a long time since John Krasinski traveled the world as everyone’s favorite analyst-turned-spy, that’s because it has.
Season 2 of Amazon’s famous action series Jack Ryan premiered in 2019, and since then, fans of the traditionally-styled “Dad TV” suspense have been excitedly awaiting the next adventure.
We anticipated the third season, but it took three years to finally arrive (a fourth and final season, plus a spinoff, are also reportedly in the works).
The series has been a cornerstone of Prime Video’s action programming strategy, laying the way for more recent action films such as Chris Pratt’s The Terminal List, the breakout blockbuster Reacher, and the Michal B. Jordan movie Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse.
Amazon’s Jack Ryan, based on the best-selling series of Tom Clancy novels, has proven to be the modern version with staying power.
Ben Affleck and Chris Pine portrayed the eponymous character in several early 2000s disasters (which of course came after the seminal 1990s run of Clancy adaptations of The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger).
For Krasinski’s third excursion as Ryan, he must prevent a new global catastrophe and uncover a new conspiracy.
This time, the focus is on a decades-old covert Soviet weapons program known as the Sokol Project, which will get Jack in trouble with the U.S. government and put him on the receiving end of a Red Notice as he hooks up with a Russian operative to prevent a political coup in Russia.
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Alena Kovac (Nina Hoss), the new president of the Czech Republic, is caught in the crossfire as she attempts to handle the threat while protecting her own country.
CIA Officer James Greer (Wendell Pierce) and retired CIA Officer Mike November (Michael Kelly) reprise their roles from previous seasons in support of Jack’s renegade operation.
Though the action and plot twists are as captivating as ever in Jack Ryan’s third novel, the formula is beginning to show.
However, they have refined this recipe to a molecular level, so if you’re looking for an intelligent political thriller, this one still meets the bill.
But similar to any premise built around world-ending stakes and a hero against all odds, the fact that Jack Ryan hasn’t actually saved the world enough times for us to start believing him when he claims disaster is brewing begins to strain credulity. No? Okay, Jack can once again figure it out on his own.
The plot of Season 3 is straightforward, at least in comparison to other tense political thrillers, and there are enough ingenious twists and shifting alliances to keep you guessing until the very end.
Along the way, there is even a little action at sea, which is always a Clancy fan favorite. However, Season 3 falls short in the same way as previous seasons, in that its central characters could have been more engaging.
Jack Ryan, portrayed by Krasinski, is resolute and determined to always do the right thing, but the boy scout routine can wear thin after a time.
Greer will always have Jack’s back, but we don’t get to see as much of their buddy cop feel this season, and this is a show that occasionally requires a bit of humor to lighten the mood.
Because you care about what happens to these characters and their experiences, a show like the Emmy-winning Homeland on HBO can continue for years after its expiration date (ahem, once again looking at you, Homeland).
However, a Jack Ryan story is inextricably bound to its plot. Less so than true character development, it moves the story forward.
This is a storytelling choice in and of itself, and it allows for some entertaining adventures and action set pieces along the way. However, it is a plot-driven story, not a character-driven one, and Season 3 maintains this approach.
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So, has the passage of time since Jack Ryan’s last expedition (which occurred before the epidemic, a bizarre datum in and of itself) resulted in an increase in sentimental attachment to him? True and no.
There aren’t very many recent, high-budget political thrillers, and a Jack Ryan story is a fairly specific genre.
It may be as battered as those old Clancy paperbacks, but fans of the genre will still find it interesting. But if you don’t? The most recent Jack Ryan novel is simply more of the same.
If nothing else, the show proves that Krasinski is a bona legitimate action movie hero, an astonishing leap from his The Office days when he wooed the receptionist.
Jack Ryan has been the ideal vehicle to demonstrate this, but that vehicle may be running out of gas as it nears its conclusion.