Home Television TV Review: New ‘Jack Ryan’ Season Offers Fine, Forgettable Entertainment

TV Review: New ‘Jack Ryan’ Season Offers Fine, Forgettable Entertainment

Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” returns for a second season, filled with the requisite globe-trotting adventures you would expect from the title character. The first season was met with decent reviews and allowed for audiences to see a new side of star John Krasinski. The second season feels simultaneously bigger and more of the same.

The second season picks up soon after the events of the first season. Jack (Krasinski) is coaxed into giving up his job working for a senator and finds himself heading to Venezuela, where he reunites with mentor Jim Greer (Wendell Pierce). They must investigate suspcious arms dealings in Venezuela and who is linked to the distribution of illegal arms. All of this is set to the backdrop of a possibly corrupt presidential election.

“Jack Ryan” feels entirely like a second season of a big series. There are a lot of plot threads that take the characters in different directions. Some feel a bit less important than others. The new season works best when focusing on the personal stakes of Jack and Jim, who we spend the most time watching. The driving force of their actions give the season a bit of nuance, which is something a series like “Jack Ryan” runs the risk of lacking.

There are new additions to the cast. “House of Cards” co-star Michael Kelly fits the role of veteran CIA officer Mike November perfectly, while Noomi Rapace adds a layer of intrigue as Harriet Baumann, whose intentions are often unclear. Jovan Depo offers some quietly commanding moments as someone who got a little more than he bargained for admist the show’s chaos. The least interesting additon is Tom Wlaschiha as the main villian of the new season. He foils a lot of Jack’s plans throughout the series but his presence rarely feels threatening. He’s simply written as a stock villain.

Krasinski tried to shed his everyman image he created with “The Office” by shifting to more action-oriented projects. The Michael Bay thriller “13 Hours” demonstrated his interest in moving away from comedy and his iteration of the Jack Ryan character continues that. The new season allows him to find depth to Jack. Sometimes, his performance feels limited by what’s on the page. Even so, Krasinski holds the season together.

One question feels prevalent and nags throughout the show. Is any of this necessary? There have been plenty of adventures with Jack Ryan, and while Krasinski finds ways to be compelling, there’s rarely a reason for this series to continue. The set pieces are exciting, two in particular in the new season, but the plotting of the series feels woefully generic.

“Jack Ryan” is a bit of a mixed-bag. It generates a series of paradoxical reactions and the new season feels uneven. The added emotional weight and a few set pieces give the show its energy. Ultimately, it will all be forgotten once it’s over.

“Jack Ryan” will be available on Amazon Prime November 1st.

GRADE: (★★1/2)

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