”I’m just an analyst!”
It’s interesting that this is the defining quote of Jack Ryan, repeated in every iteration as much as Bond orders a “vodka martini, shaken, not stirred” (well, except for Daniel Craig), and like Bond, this line doesn’t come from the books but from the original movie portrayal of Alec Baldwin (which, along with his cameo in Glengarry Glen Ross may be the best thing he’s ever done in film). Clancy’s literary character was essentially an avatar for himself, or rather, as he saw himself, and frankly was generally the least intersting thing about the stories he was in as we was essentially an observer who existed to exposit the events to the reader.
The current re-imagined iteration is so far removed from the original character in nearly every way the only reason to name him “Jack Ryan” was to lock in an audience of Clancy fans. The plot of the show is nothing special, and really doesn’t make a lot of sense, particularly the apparent bureaucratic disinterest in high value SWIFT transactions; in reality, the pattern of suspect transactions would have been automatically flagged long before a human analyst would put it together, and the location and scale of transactions would have pushed it to the top of the list. Clancy was no John le Carré but even he would have written something smarter than this.
And because the story is so thin, the show is padded with a bunch of human interest side plots that aren’t all that interesting and don’t seem to contribute much to the central story. It’s not as dumb as Strike Back (in which the plot such as there is is really just an excuse for progressively more ridiculous gunfights and chases, occasionally bookended by soft core porn) but out of over six and a half hours of screen time there is maybe an actual two hour movie here. Contrast this with the recent The Night Manager for how this type of story can be done well.
Also, I’m not sure who decided that John Krasinski shoud be fomented into the next action movie star, but it seems like some film exec looked at Chris Pratt before and after Guardians of the Galaxy and decided to find their own shlubby comedic actor to get shredded and dress in tactical gear. Krasinski is fine in the role, such as it is, but he’s no Chris Pratt, and as Jack Ryan he really has few opportunitues to display the awkward charm that made him appealing on television. Still, it’s better than another Ben Affleck outing as the character; this is just pointless and forgettable instrad of offensively smarmy. The only highlights of note are “The Bunk” as James Greer (apparently demoted in this iteration from a rear admiral to just some mid-level field agent who pissed someone off) and Blair Brown showing up in a cameo role.
I give it two Honorable Schoolboys out of a possible five and hope that someone will make a sequel to Deutschland 83.