Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan: Lentil Soup with Kibbeh Recipe

Year Released: 2018
Starring: John Krasinski, Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, Ala Suliman, Dina Shihabi
(Not Rated, but probably an R, 42064 min.)
Genre:
Action and Adventure, Political Thriller

TomClancy'sJackRyan2018.jpg

Ok, Hunt for Red October it is not.  And you might want to forego episode 3 altogether if you have children under 16 in the house, (or maybe even if you do not, since that episode is so poorly done.) But as a made for streaming Amazon Prime feature, John Krasinki’s Jack Ryan is pretty decent.

An up-and-coming CIA analyst, Jack Ryan, is thrust into a dangerous field assignment as he uncovers a pattern in terrorist communication that launches him into the center of a dangerous gambit.

Author Tom Clancy introduced the character of Jack Ryan in a series of books before Ryan headed to the big screen in several films. Now the former U.S. Marine is featured in an episodic series for the first time, with John Krasinski portraying Ryan in this Amazon original thriller that centers on Ryan as an up-and-coming CIA analyst.

Members of both the right and left are equally offended, and probably that’s a good sign:

Vanty Fair writer says it all in her title: “Jack Ryan Is a Patriotic Nightmare: Watching this show feels like falling down a Fox News rabbit hole.”

Or more specifically:

Its other primary story objective is proving that Jack Ryan deserves his white male entitlement—which indicates just how closely American myths of masculinity are intertwined with international dominance. From frame to frame, Jack Ryan is an astonishing case study in toxic narratives.  –Sonia Saraiya

While others with military backgrounds criticize the accuracy, to put it mildly:

I was looking forward to this series, I really was. I watched the first episode and holy cow was this just terrible. It's hard to believe any of the depictions of the military in the desert scenes. Having been there, done that, I know for a fact that that band of insurgents would have never made it that close or penetrated a US SP like that and survived to tell the tale. What a weak excuse of an ACP, where is the crew serves? Where the hell was the air support? Naked M4s? Officers pulling tower guard? The guard who was "captured" was pulling guard down a hallway and not the door directly behind him? Local National militants wearing MARPAT? What was the deal with the body exchange? We don't pay bounties for bodies. The hell is this show? The firepower alone on a COP of that size could easily annihilate 3 trucks worth of insurgents. What a terrible show. I hate you Amazon for destroying Tom Clancy's work. –Amazon viewer

Some viewers were offended by the new backstory behind Ryan’s boss, James Greer, played to perfection in earlier films by the inimitable James Earl Jones.  In this series, Greer is a Muslim convert.  Here is some of the background and philosophy of the a consultant for the series:

In any case, some development executives at Paramount saw me in an HBO documentary, “Homegrown: The Counter-Terror Dilemma.” There, I comment on my evolution as someone once planning on joining the Taliban to instead investing myself in a more thorough approach to Islam. In that period, however, I had lost a student and friend who was believed to have joined al-Qa’ida, until we killed him in a drone strike. 

Even though my full-time job is as a Muslim chaplain and college professor teaching Islamic studies, Islamic organizations, attorneys, and families turn to me to address Muslim radicalization. I wish it was obvious to more people that the problem of Muslim radicalization is tiny among all the other issues we face in our community, and is tiny compared to the problem of American White Supremacist Christian radicalization: this is a point I make every time I am presenting on the topic before Federal Agents. Where I live in the Southwest Suburbs of Chicago, the Klan is a real threat, not ISIS. –Omar M. Mozaffar

Here is what several Amazon viewers thought of the resulting changes to Greer (as well as other characters):

–Other than using the names of the Clancy characters, this is not Clancy, not Jack Ryan, not Admiral Greer, not Cathy Ryan....I could go on. None of the back stories will mesh up with this show's "artistic license". If you were going to tell the story of young Jack Ryan, you've blown it. This makes the angst of Star Trek Discovery amongst Star Trek fans seem tame.

–Turning James Greer into a divorcing Muslim is really going too far to just make the point that not all Muslims are terrorists. Who thinks that? Do we really need to be reminded of it by butchering a main character? Classic Tom Clancy was filled with unique characters - even the "bad guys" weren't always bad, it turns out. But this is just obvious political correctness with no dimensionality.  

–However, Greer being cast as a Muslim was an inappropriate politically correct move. Greer explains he converted to facilitate a now failed marriage. Greer as a non religious "conflicted soul" with a Muslim wife could have added to the story line. 

***

What does Different Drummer think?  For the most part, I found the series well-written and compelling, with excellent production values and a real sense of authenticity – not necessarily completely accurate, but pretty good.  Real experts will always grouse, anyway.

And yes, in terms of accuracy, now, sadly, real people probably do use excessive profanity, but I still find its overuse here somewhat annoying.  This ex English teacher sees it as a lack of verbal dexterity and a sad coarsening of our culture.  The same can be said about the sex scenes.  Not all audience members are voyeurs.  

Actually when graphic sex, violence, and profanity were not allowed on screen, the writers and actors had to work all the harder to compel us to watch their fare.  And as a result, their products were often superior to what we generally see today.

The Muslim perspective was pretty balanced and nuanced, although making Greer (Wendell Pierce) a Muslim did seem a bit unnecessary.  And his personal interactions with Ryan seem somewhat petty and small-minded.  But who can compete with James Earl Jones?

Generally, a good series and certainly binge-worthy. But not even close to the wonderful renditions we have had on the big screen with such fine cast members as the aforementioned James Earl Jones, a youthful and impressive Alec Baldwin, ever favorite Harrison Ford, and of course, Bond himself (Sean Connery) keeping us breathless and intellectually engaged in The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and A Clear and Present Danger. But you can’t have filet mignon every night, right?

Here are some great Syrian refugee chefs attempting to “seduce Parisians” with their culinary creations.

–Kathy Borich
3 1/2 drums