Jack Ryan Season 2 Review: Slicker, grander and more entertaining than the first instalment

Srivathsan Nadadhur -

Jack Ryan Season 2 Review: Slicker, grander and more entertaining than the first instalment
Amazon Prime Video
Movie Rated


After tracking a potentially suspicious shipment of illegal arms in the Venezuelan jungle, CIA Officer Jack Ryan heads down to South America to investigate. As Jack’s investigation threatens to uncover a far-reaching conspiracy, the President of Venezuela launches a counter-attack that hits home for Jack, leading him and his fellow operatives on a global mission spanning the United States, UK, Russia, and Venezuela


Format:   Original Series
Platform:   Amazon Prime Video
Movie Rated:   18+
Genre:   Action, Political Thriller, Spy Thriller, 
Language:   English
Digital Premiere Date:   1 November 2019

Jack Ryan is probably one of the rarest occasions in the digital space when a show betters itself in the second season. The round two of the spy thriller makes the first instalment seem like a sober cousin in comparison despite being politically, factually inept. It is a treat for action junkies by all means; the thrills are more frequent, the script has larger commercial appeal, the screenplay is sharper. After Yemen, the action this time shifts to a politically charged climate in Venezuela, where the protagonist tries to make sense of a mysterious series of transactions in the country with multiple global powers.

Jack enters Venezuela when President Reyes’ chances of getting re-elected are diminishing by the day. The former is in the middle of his quest to unearth the murky facts beneath Venezuela’s financial dealings, joined by his former superior James Greer (post his rough stint in Russia). Heading towards a militia guarded compound in the middle of the jungle, Jack lands on a lead that could open him to the truths surrounding the country’s investments (for its nuclear mission).

Meanwhile, Reyes’ election woes deepen when his opponent Gloria’s campaign gains ground. There are deeper connections between the disappearance of Gloria’s husband, the election and the financial dealings. Just when the US’ CIA contingent looks set to wrap up formalities and go about their business, they are asked to leave the country for tampering with its internal affairs. Will Jack emerge successful in thwarting his odds’ aims? Where the second instalment falls short of emotional depth, it compensates with its intriguing screenplay. The characterisation is more black-and-white, but the action sequences and the underplayed pulpy drama are the icings on the cake.

Jack feels a lot like a toned-down version of Ethan Hunt in the MI series. While the action segments are overwhelmingly larger than life in the latter, Jack Ryan prefers to stay rooted in its setting more. From the first two seasons of the series, it’s hard to deny that Jack Ryan is a ‘make-believe’ attempt to position the USA as a global saviour, always being the first nation that looks at the larger good of the humankind and that it gives them enough license to interfere in any country’s internal and political affairs. The nailbiting political drama makes us ignore its supremacist ideas. The good thing, Jack Ryan (especially in the second season) remains an enjoyable commercial potboiler and it progresses at a pace where it doesn’t compel a viewer to think. To cut a long story short, the filmmaking saves its poor researching.

It’s always empowering to watch a woman inching her way towards an electoral victory in a presidential race (in any country, as a matter of fact) and it’s hard to not root for Gloria when she stands up to her fascist opponent in this series. While the makers project her as a flawless, strong woman placed in a vulnerable situation, it would have made the electoral race spicier if there were more flaws to her persona. The romance subplot in the show, like its predecessor, is kept to a bare minimum, though it engages while it lasts. It sometimes complicates itself needlessly, though all the threads are tied up reasonably well later. All said and done, the word slick suits this season more than the first one.

Unlike other agents and officers in popular thrillers franchises, Jack Ryan feels earthy and never too distant; John Krasinski makes the character seem more approachable, this can also be attributed the time he gets to establish the many facets of the part. While most protagonists in other franchises appear like a human version of the superheroes, Krasinski is slightly more vulnerable, grounded despite his adventures. Wendell Pierce as Greer doesn’t have a newer shade to explore in his character this time around, nevertheless doing justice to the portrayal. Jordi Molla in the shoes of Nicolas Reyes lends a lot of meaning to his deeper stares, while Cristina Umaña fills us with warmth in the role of the do-gooder presidential candidate. The background score is to-the-point; the cinematography enriches the storytelling every bit. Jack Ryan Season 2 has more hits than misses; enough to make the wait for the third season worthy.

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