Prime Video Reviews

Review: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan season two

Bullets and political accusations are flying in season two of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime Video.

Although the mission to thwart Islamic terrorist Mousa Bin Suleiman was handled exceptionally well in the first season avoiding many recycled tropes, the series pivots away from terrorist threats in a welcome move for season two.

CIA analyst and all around Superman with a badge and a gun, Jack Ryan (John Krasinski), teams with his former boss James Greer (Wendell Pierce) to investigate what could be illegal arm shipments to Venezuela. Mirroring the real world, Venezuela is a country in crisis fraught with political corruption and suffering from a horrendous economic and humanitarian crisis which in reality has forced 3.4 million, 10 percent of the population, to leave their homeland.

Jordi Mollà is Nicolás Reyes, the fictional Venezuelan leader whose unshakable grip on the country is being challenged, threatened by his political opponent Gloria Bonalde (Cristina Umaña) in an upcoming election. Bonalde’s widening popularity among the downtrodden populace has Reyes scrambling and he is in no mood for nosy Americans like Ryan and Greer poking around his government’s shady shenanigans.

While Ryan, Greer and U.S. senator take the diplomatic route at first, the CIA has a back-up plan. They are coordinating a reconnaissance mission guided by the snappy Matice (the returning John Hoogenakker), one of the stand-out characters from season one. The Special Activities Division operator recruits a team for the covert mission that includes wheelman Marcus ‘Uber’ (Jovan Adepo) who has retired from active service and at first has no interest in returning to that chaotic life even though he is one of the best at what he does but as we know, Matice can be very convincing.

It is good for us but bad for Ryan and Greer when things get more complicated, messy and bloody for the duo. They turn to Mike November, a CIA commander in Venezuela, to lend them a hand. Michael Kelly, who was the memorable Doug Stamper in House of Cards, is November and just like Matice, he steals the show as the hard-nosed CIA veteran who is prepared for anything, any time, anywhere.

While the election and the political intrigue surrounding it is at the core of the season there is plenty of action especially with inclusion of Noomi Rapace, whose breakout role was Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films. Rapace is Harriet ‘Harry’ Baumann, a German spy who helps and hinders Ryan as he tries to uncover what Reyes is up to and who, if anyone, is in league with him.

Michael Kelly and Wendell Pierce in Tom Clancy’ Jack Ryan. Photo: Amazon Prime.

Pouring fuel on the fire is the identity-swapping, assassin (Tom Wlaschiha as Max Schenkel ) who would be comfortable in any James Bond film. Ryan and Baumann track him from Venezuela to London. Even though the detour to London does inject more action, there is a very cool Jason Bourne-ish parkour chase scene, it feels disjointed, shoe-horned into the overall story.

Other than Baumann and Ryan meeting under amorous circumstances, some fans may be disappointed that the romance has been ditched this season. Ryan’s relationship with Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish) is not even alluded to. Ryan is pretty much portrayed as if he is single with no real explanation about what happened with Mueller, a blooming relationship which was a focal point of the first season. In the movies and books, Mueller eventually becomes Ryan’s wife.

The action, law enforcement procedural television landscape is already congested with all manner of redundant terrorist thrillers – Yeah, I am talking to you, BBC. – so Jack Ryan abandoning the desert sands of the Middle East for the lush jungles of Venezuela adds another layer to the series and gives viewers an appreciated break from that monotony.

One person who probably won’t be watching this season is Venezuela’s Minister of Cultural Affairs Ernesto Villega who called a preview of the series “Crass war propaganda disguised as entertainment.” The only real message being pushed though is that citizens anywhere deserve a government who has their best interests at heart, always. One can hardly argue with that.

Season two of Jack Ryan begins airing on Amazon Prime on November 1st.

Top Photo: John Krasinski and Noomi Rapace in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Courtesy: Amazon Prime Video.

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