TOM CLANCY'S JACK RYAN (Season 3) -- A Solid Season With an Undertone of Reality Thrown In For Good Measure
Review by Dan Skip Allen
Jack Ryan is one of Tom Clancy's most popular characters. He had five films before he got his own series on Prime Video starring John Krasinski. The first season was very good, introducing fans to a new iteration of this character. The second season was not as good, but it was entertaining nonetheless. This December, the third-season premiers and fans will be in for the ride of their lives with a lot of espionage and spy games.
Clancy has focused on Russia in some of his works, so it makes sense that Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) tackles this Eastern European juggernaut in his series. CIA Agent Jack Ryan gets accused of the murder of a Russian soldier, which ends up getting him in prison, but he escapes and has to figure out who set him up and what this has to do with their actual plan: starting World War III between the US and the Russians.
The series is very complicated and deals with topics very close to home regarding the war in Ukraine and Russia's involvement. Ukraine plays a significant part in the show this season. Nina Hoss plays the president of Ukraine, and her father, played by Peter Guinness, is an ex-Russian patriot who has dreams of the motherland and bringing it back to prominence as a world power once again.
There are many moving pieces involving a cue in Russia and problems within the ranks of the CIA which get the top brass of the US involved. Krasinski's Ryan gets some help from a few friends from past seasons: James Greer (Wendall Pierce) and Mike November (Michael Pierce). He needs all the help he can get as this show spans a lot of history and European grounds. This season, the show goes to Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Russia, and of course, the United States. It's part of what makes this series so good.
This season, there is a historical aspect to the show regarding the Russian side of the story. It gives a backstory to what motivated them to do these things they are attempting to do in the present time. Guinness and James Cosmo play ex-Russian soldiers, and their characters are focused on as young men in the flashbacks. This gives a lot of context to the series this season.
Like always in this show, there are plenty of action scenes and set pieces, but not to the level of something like a Mission: Impossible film. They have to work within a budget. That's not to say this series isn't action-packed or dull in any way. It just has to do things in a less-than-explosive way. There is more espionage this season than in seasons past. That makes sense because of who the show is dealing with. Both the Russian and US sides of the story have a lot of intrigue and subterfuge. It is hard to follow along with who we, as viewers, can trust and not trust throughout the series.
That being said, this season lacks a little extra oomph that other seasons had. There is much more talking and walking and men in prison, and not enough of what I've come to expect from this series thus far. I think a reason for that is the pandemic. I believe this show was plagued by problems because of restrictions from COVID-19. Many countries had stringent laws involving their borders, mask mandates, and so forth. That may have played a part in why this season was more grounded and less explosive.
Krasinski and company were fantastic in season three of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan, given the pressure they were under while making this show this season. The story was very good, and the backstory helped develop some newer characters, especially the Russian ones. The connection to Ukraine has made it a show people will watch. That was a nice touch trying it to recent events. The series as a whole was entertaining, but I would have liked to see what they could have done had this not been filmed during the pandemic years — maybe more action and explosions instead of so much talking and exposition.
Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan streams on Prime Video beginning December 21.