Amazon UK TV review: Jack Ryan: Season 2
Believable-yet-cool spy stuff8
Chris Bryant | On 06, Nov 2019
Never seen Jack Ryan? Read our spoiler-free review of Season 1 here.
John Krasinski’s intelligence operative returns for a blistering second season, fully-loaded with tension, twists and top-notch characters. From the beautifully unskippable opening credits to its bullet-ridden conclusion, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan continues to be the benchmark for grounded, intelligence-driven stories that don’t sacrifice thrills in their mission for realistic adventures.
Centred around a Venezuelan political crisis, a mysterious satellite launch, and some missing shipping containers, the second season of Amazon’s action drama is undeniably more personal than the first. While Krasinski’s titular analyst is dealing with a loss and looks to newcomer Michael Kelly (House of Cards) for guidance, Wendell Pierce’s Jim Greer battles health problems and Ryan’s unpredictability, while black-ops team leader Matice (John Hoognakker) is forced to leave a man behind after a mission gone wrong. Including excellent turns from Noomi Rapace (a mysterious German operative), Tom Wlaschiha (a rogue hitman), and this season’s big bad, President Nicolas Reyes (a brooding Jordi Molla), Jack Ryan’s return is a star-studded affair that makes great use of the on-screen talent while never dropping focus from the task at hand.
Following the first season’s impeccable balance of detective work and tactically-used action scenes, Season 2 drip-feeds some real spectacles that range from city rooftop shootouts to missions in the jungle. For the most part, the action is realistic enough to keep you on the edge of your seat. There’s no clever tech or giant missiles at play here; most of the shootouts and chases are expertly produced to ensure hearts are pounding before a shot is even fired. Towards the end of the season some cowboy-style antics in might push the boundary of realism, but the personal arc of Jack Ryan keeps the story on track.
As with Season 1’s Suleman, Season 2’s antagonists all have legitimate motivations, which are explored and contextualised to ensure they don’t become caricatures. Jordi Molla’s fraught dictator, Francisco Denis’ fearful General, and Tom Wlaschiha’s hired killer all have documented drives and intelligent thought behind them – they are not just targets for the good guys to shoot at before waving their flags.
Aside from the potentially overstuffed final episode, it’s a brilliantly bingeable return for Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Krasinski still shines as the intellectual powerhouse forced into action by his economic genius, and never drops into being two-dimensional – which, considering the heavy personal arcs of the secondary characters, would’ve been a real risk for a lesser show. Even with the questionable ‘USA involving itself in a South American election’ narrative, Jack Ryan’s second season is a nail-biting thrill to watch, and is the ideal show if you’re looking for an action hero with more brain than brawn.
Jack Ryan: Season 1 and 2 is available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.