Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan: 1.01 Pilot

The first Jack Ryan novel came out in 1984. There have been five feature films and many more novels since. I have neither seen nor read any of them, so I am coming as this series fresh; basing my expectations more on shows like Homeland or The Night Manager than anything else. My parents, who I am watching the season with, have both read and watched various of instalments, so their observations may creep into these reviews.

My general feelings about this episode are positive, but that are a few points about the show that I am unsure about, and a few areas where some very obvious artistic license has obviously been taken.

One of the most easily noticeable aspects of the show is the great production value. Pretty and beautiful aren't the right words, but this is a good looking show. The acting is amazing, as is the use of swearing in the script. Using crass language is really effective in not only setting the more serious and adult tone of the plot but also adding to the characterisation of James Greer as a hard-ass who takes no shit and is willing to speak his mind.

The naturalistic lighting helps make the story seem closer to real life. However the realism doesn't go quite as far beyond that as I would have liked from a narrative perspective. During the attack on the US Black Site at the end of the episode, the disorganisation and lack of defences was unbelievable, almost to the point of distraction.

The camp is initially breached by someone masquerading as a corpse, who it seems the soldiers didn't properly check. This is made extra unbelievable because they are harbouring what could be a high-level target. Then the gates are blown by a car bomb, which made me wonder why there wasn't a double line of defence. While these things weren't a complete distraction from what was going on in the scenes, they were in a strange juxtaposition with the more realistic tone that the cinematography and lighting seem to be going for.

Other than these points, the episode was fun to watch. The man who has been set up to be the main villain, Suleiman, is somewhat of a sympathetic character. While his actions aren't good, it is understandable that he would be angry and vengeful after his entire life was burned to the ground when he was just a kid who wanted to dance to Safety Dance. I am interested to see how his story continues throughout the rest of the season.

I am hoping that it is explained how he and his bother got from the rubble of their home to where they are in this episode. I would be very interested in seeing the show try to deal with the topic of the damage that has been caused to the Middle East by war over the past few decades.

Something else I am looking forward to seeing is more about Jack Ryan's past. His careers before becoming an analyst, both as a marine and working on Wall Street, are mentioned, but his reasoning for the moves from each job to the next isn't explained in detail. As such, I am expecting there to be quite a few flashbacks over the next seven episodes.

I look forward to the rest of this series and have high hopes that it is going to be great fun to watch whilst also touching on some important political issues.

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