Mr. Krasinski is the face of “Jack Ryan,” and he’s a pleasure to watch. The more important name associated with the show, though, is probably that of Carlton Cuse, who created it with Graham Roland and has writing or directing credits on four of the six episodes available for review.
As a creator or producer in recent years of suspense, horror and science-fiction series like “Bates Motel,” “The Strain” and “Colony,” Mr. Cuse has a solid record for being more creative in terms of concept, and more thoughtful in terms of character, than the television norm. But his shows also stay solidly within their genre boundaries, and their execution can be formulaic to the point of drab.
Which is what you get with “Jack Ryan”: a solid spy thriller, with a strong narrative tug and appealing performers (including Wendell Pierce as Ryan’s mentor, James Greer, and Abbie Cornish as his girlfriend, Cathy Mueller), that doesn’t rise to the game-changing heights the new entertainment regime at Amazon might have wanted. (Along the way, it also takes some detours — particularly a subplot involving a guilty drone pilot — that can’t be what anyone had in mind.)
An amusing, or frustrating, characteristic of the Ryan movies was their willful disregard of continuity, even though Mace Neufeld was a producer of all of them, and is now an executive producer of the Amazon series. They jumped back and forth in time, and the fourth and fifth each rebooted the story, in different ways. “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” continues that tradition, taking Ryan back to his early days as a C.I.A. analyst. Once again, he can save the world for the first time.
Another commonality among the films was their Cold War outlook, even after they departed from the novels — Russia was the evil empire, right through “Shadow Recruit.” The series breaks away from Mr. Clancy’s era, joining the rest of popular culture in focusing on the Middle East and making terrorists the antagonists.
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