Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan
Streaming TV

Boxset Monday: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (season two) (Amazon)

In the UK: Available on Amazon

When pretentious people talk about adaptations, the stock phrase ‘going back to the source material’ usually pops up at some point. But what if, to be slightly euphemistic, your source material is ‘a couple of rounds short of a full clip’? How authentic to your source material do you want to be then?

It was a dilemma that faced pretty much everyone who’s adapted Tom Clancy’s books, including the producers of season one of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, Amazon’s best show up to that point – all things being relative. Clancy’s books can be exciting but are also mockably bad, jingoistic nonsense at times. So if you want to do a Tom Clancy adaptation, do you ‘go back to the source material’ and do something that’s risible, or do you do something that’s better?

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan was actually decent enough TV. True, it was often pretty stupid and its Clancy-esque view of the world gave us Muslim terrorists able to smuggle not just one but two WMDs into France. But you didn’t feel like you were watching a Trump Tweet come to life and it did at least aim for a certain air of verisimilitude.

John Krasinski and Noomi Rapace
John Krasinski and Noomi Rapace in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan


Season two, however, seems to have decided to go back to the source material – and be stupider and crasser. After only moderately insulting Muslims, France and the Middle East in season one, this time round, it’s the turn of South America to get told it’s really rubbish and nowhere near as good as the US.

It sees our former buddies – Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) and James Greer (Wendell Pierce) – working on different continents. Greer is in Russia, trying to work out who’s firing missiles from the South Seas. He’d probably stand a better chance if he didn’t keep falling over and nearly dying from a heart condition.

Meanwhile, Ryan is back in the US. He has suspicions that Russia is shipping arms to Venezuela and before you know it, he’s in-country, trying to find proof. And before he knows it, so’s Greer – as their respective missions start to dovetail.

But not everything is so clear cut. Except for the fact Venezuela is shit and corrupt and nowhere near as good as the US – or one All-American guy with a big American gun.

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