You can’t have failed to notice Amazon Prime Video’s huge advertising campaign for their new original series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.
John Krasinski, star of the US version of The Office and critically acclaimed horror A Quiet Place, has been taking over the nation’s billboards as the CIA analyst Jack Ryan.
Transforming the classic Tom Clancy character for 2018, the series tells a very modern story of global terrorism in a unique way.
Previously Jack Ryan has appeared on the big screen, played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford in blockbusters such as The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games.
In 2018, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is eight heart-stopping episodes, but the Prime Video Original is still on the same filmic scale as the big screen adventures.
“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is basically an eight-hour tentpole movie,” says co-creator Carlton Cuse (Lost, The Strain).
“I think this show delivers on those filmic elements people want to see in a Jack Ryan movie, including big-scale action sequences and a globetrotting international adventure. But our show also has time to dive deeper into both the story and the characters because we have eight hours to tell the story.”
The story follows Ryan’s journey from Marine-turned rookie CIA analyst behind a desk to battling a Syrian-based terrorist mastermind in a race against time.
Why you need to watch Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
1. It's John Krasinski
Fan of Krasinski as the long-suffering paper salesman Jim Halpert in the US version of The Office might be shocked to see him transformed into a gritty action hero, as he swaps wry looks to the camera for whipping off his shirt and kicking butt.
However, it’s Krasinski’s natural likability that makes this modern version of Jack Ryan function. He’s got the nuance to pull off the all-American hero without it coming across as an old-fashioned good guys v bad guys narrative.
2. It shines a light on the other side of terrorism
“We had to find a story that was part of the current zeitgeist in terms of what’s going on in the world today. So we took on modern-day terrorism, but also showed the other side of the coin, which I don’t think gets portrayed very often in the media. We wanted to understand how somebody could get to the place of perpetrating terrorist acts,” said Cuse.
Although Jack Ryan is the hero of the series, terrorist leader Suleiman and his sister Hanin bring characters to the screen, who have rarely been seen before.
Orphaned during the Lebanese Civil War, Suleiman grows up in Paris, earns a degree in economics, and encounters job discrimination despite his obvious intelligence and passion for his field. After protecting his beloved younger brother Ali from police harassment, he winds up in prison, where he converts to a radical form of Islam.
“As soon as I read the first scene in the script, I wanted to do this,” said Ali Suliman.
“Suleiman has many colors, including the fact that he loves his family.
“For me, that was the best part. I really empathized with the connection between Suleiman and his wife, and his children, and the love for his brother.”
Dina Shihabi, who plays Suleiman’s sister, added: “As an Arab woman I rarely find female film or TV characters in America—or anywhere, really—who are proactive and fearless like Hanin.
“She’s not a pushover. Playing Hanin, I get to show her innate strength, which develops even more as she goes on this journey to save her kids. Each choice Hanin makes is about the safety of her children, and I think that’s an incredible thing to connect with as a woman.”
3. It’s got Bunk from The Wire
Yes, that is Wendell Pierce of The Wire, Treme and Selma fame, playing Jack Ryan’s boss James Greer.
Pierce brings his own unique style to the memorable role, combining humour, intelligence and convincing as a badass when out in the field.
“I’ve always been a huge fan because Tom Clancy’s stories speak to people in different countries, different cultures,” said Pierce.
“People recognize the danger in covert actions, but there’s humanity in the work as well.”
Talking about his version of Greer, he said: “At times my character feels like his best days are behind him, but in Jack- even though they clash at times- Greer sees the opportunity to get back into the field.”
Why is everyone talking about it?
This is a TV series on a scale quite unlike anything you’ve seen before.
Filmed over seven months in Washington D.C., Canada, France, and Morocco, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan reflects the changes in global terrorism since 90s movie thrillers like Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games.
“If you want to make a true geopolitical thriller, you have to go to Africa. You have to go to Europe. And you need resources to do that,” said co-creator Graham Roland (Lost, Fringe).
“So it was great to have all the support we needed to make an eight-hour movie as opposed to just a TV show.”
At its heart, the show retains the classic everyman hero and wily villain game of cat and mouse, but this very modern take on Jack Ryan also throws into red-hot topics from biological weapons and drone warfare to Syrian refugees and human trafficking.
“It’s a thrill ride of a show, but you’ll also walk away with a deeper understanding of some of the issues involved in Islamic extremism and you’ll learn about CIA spycraft,” said Cuse.
“If we do our job right, people will have a hard time not clicking on to the next installment.”
Director Patricia Riggen (The 33) believes that the series will introduce viewers to the “other side of the conflict” between the West and the Arab world and that the global filming schedule contributed to distinguishing Jack Ryan from standard thrillers.
“To be able to see inside a Muslim home, to see how our Muslim characters grew up, what they read, what they think, how they feel about things, our show takes a fresh approach to a familiar genre,” said Riggen.
From the camels and clay ovens of Marrakesh to the James Bond-style glamour of Paris, Jack Ryan is so epic that it requires a team of four directors: Oscar-nominated Norwegian filmmaker Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), Daniel Sackheim (Game of Thrones), Riggen and Cuse.
Watch this if you liked…
Homeland, 24, Quantico, Strike Back, The Hunt for Red October/Patriot Games/Clear and Present Danger.
How to watch Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan on BT TV
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan is streaming now on Amazon Prime Video.
Amazon Prime Video is now available on your BT TV set top box – giving customers access to Prime Videos incredible collection of TV and movies, incluing exlusive Prime Originals.
BT TV customers have started receiving the Amazon Prime Video app with rollout happening across the summer.