‘Jack Ryan’ Season 2 Review: The Amazon Prime Show Ups The Ante
In season two of the action series Jack Ryan, the creators have ratcheted up the stakes to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. It follows the formula set in the first season, but since that wasn’t broken, there was no need to fix it.
Creators: Carlton Cuse, Graham Roland
Writers: Carlton Cuse, Graham Roland, Vince Calandra, Daria Polatin, David Graziano, Annie Jacobsen
Cast: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Noomi Rapace, Michael Kelly, Jovan Adepo, Jordi Molla, Francisco Denis, Cristina Umana
Seasons: 2 (2018-2019)
Streaming on: Amazon Prime
John Krasinski’s Jack Ryan is a likeable badass
Season one accomplished the major challenge of setting up John Krasinski, the actor best known for his role as the good-natured prankster Jim Halpert in The Office, as a believable CIA badass. In season two, Krasinski really settles into the role, bringing out Ryan’s clever, sarcastic side. While the character of Jack Ryan has been played by four other actors in various movies (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine), Krasinski’s portrayal makes Ryan wittier and more likeable than previous versions.
The action is in Venezuela
In season one Jack Ryan’s former superior, James Greer (played by Wendell Pierce, known for his turn as William ‘Bunk’ Moreland in the The Wire) makes Jack an offer to move to the Moscow field office and work with him. Instead, Jack chooses to stay in the States to work for US senator Moreno (Martinez), his former commanding officer in the Marines. Life soon gets interesting as murky, transcontinental business starts to come to the surface; the world needs Jack to come to the rescue again. At end of a chain of events, Jack and James end up in Venezuela around the same time in search of illegal weapons and nukes. For Jack, this means another covert operation across borders with military personnel and trying to diffuse the crisis unfolding on that side of the world in eight episodes. As with the first season, it’s entertaining to watch Jack tackle stakes that rise to world-ending proportions.
In Venezuela, Jack meets new faces. Harriet Baumann (Noomi Rapace), a rogue German spy, the CIA’s Venezuelan station chief Mike November (Michael Kelly) and Max (Tom Wlaschiha), a killer for hire.
The choice of Venezuela is significant. In 2015, former US President Barack Obama issued an order declaring Venezuela a threat to its national security because the country had committed serious human rights violations. Venezuela was reportedly touchy about how it was portrayed in the show and didn’t approve of the trailer for season two. Perhaps the sour relationship between the US and Venezuela means that the latter will replace the Middle East as the setting for future spy movies and TV shows.