Jack Ryan season 2 review

January 29, 2020

 Image courtesy of Variety.com

John Krasinski returns as the titular hero in Prime Video’s second season of the political spy thriller based on Tom Clancy’s ‘Ryanverse’. He is notably the fifth actor to portray the role of the former CIA analyst following on from the likes of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine.

Ryan has now become far more confident, assertive and clean-cut that he was in season one, perhaps a result from the gruelling experience of taking out Mousa bin Suleiman. This time, Ryan is headed to Venezuela to keep international threats at bay yet again. In the season’s first episode, Ryan explains how it has become one of the most dangerous regimes in the world consumed in political warfare and corruption. Interestingly, the Venezuelan government found this concept to be less than favourable, describing the theme as “crass war propaganda disguised as entertainment”. Unsurprisingly, the show doesn’t concern itself with notion in the slightest. The premise of the season is the pursuit of illegal activities in Venezuela happening under the direction of the corrupt President Reyes, with the upcoming election also providing further tension.  Since there is no evidence to suggest there is clear and present danger (pun intended), Ryan and his team must tread very lightly. As tends to happen in these stories, chaos inevitably arises.

Right from the get go, this season is no where near as cohesive and tight as season one was. In fact, the first episode was perhaps the most cohesive of the whole season, and from episode two onwards, it becomes quite the mess. The truth of the matter is that there are far too many superficial plot lines being balanced here, making the show feel convoluted and rather hollow. The moment you forget about one plot line, you are reminded of another and can’t help but wonder how it all fits together. The season’s slow pacing certainly doesn’t seek to resolve this.

President Reyes is nowhere near as intimidating a threat as Mousa bin Suleiman was in season one. Noomi Rapace’s character may be enigmatic, heightening the battle of wits between her and Ryan, but she’s just plain boring and pointless – perhaps the season’s weakest link. To top that, Abbie Cornish’s Cathy Mueller is mysteriously absent from this season, no explanation given. Krasinski’s portrayal of Ryan is drastically different, it feels like he’s emotionally removed from everything, mumbling about with dialogue that is mostly exposition based. Strangely enough, he is present on screen, but then it feels like he isn’t. Hell! It doesn’t even feel like he’s the main focus of this show because of how overstuffed it is with other unsatisfying characters.

The action sequences are effective enough, but they certainly don’t break the mould by any stretch of the imagination. They may possess that quintessential ‘blockbuster’ feel but it’s painstakingly obvious that by aiming to go ‘bigger’, the whole thing just ends up feeling smaller.

Although this review so far may suggest that there is nothing worthwhile about the season, there is actually just about enough good to keep it from becoming a complete disappointment. However, the third season which has already been ordered is going to have to fine tune quite a few aspects if it wants to be anywhere near as good as the first. Season two simply left an awful lot to be desired.

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First published in 1965, InQuire is the University of Kent student newspaper.

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