Having been a devoted reader of the Tom Clancy Jack Ryan novels since their original release, I’ve also been a fan of the films. Alec Baldwin and then Harrison Ford both did a great job of recreating the character from the novels and added the usual Hollywood touch. 

When the Amazon Prime series with John Krasinski was released last year I was immediately intrigued, mainly because I thought that Krasinski would bring realism to the character that was just a bit missing from the big screen. Ryan, in the Clancy novels, was a classic gray man, an analyst who was a former Marine grunt officer who was hurt just a few years into his career. So, while he wasn’t a super soldier or SOF badass (like Geo), he knew enough to be able to function when the shit hit the fan. 

And in the original film, Baldwin (in his younger days) was just a bit too movie star pretty-boy. Harrison Ford was just too big a star; but when making big-budget studio films you need that box office draw — and Harry is exactly that. 

But Krasinski? I thought he’d be the perfect Jack Ryan, an analyst geek who works in a cubicle at Langley but has the background to be a grunt’s grunt. Essentially an everyman — something that Krasinski pulled off extremely well in The Office. What makes Jack Ryan such a great character, after all, is his normality. He’s a guy who totally believes in what he’s doing and feels like he can make a difference. He’s willing to risk his career and his own ass in doing so. And that’s what resonates with the audience.

Krasinski/Ryan is what every red-blooded guy sees when he reads the novels, goes to the films and sees a version of himself in the story. We all want to be the guy that goes out on a limb and can do all that secret agent shit.

Jack Ryan isn’t the suave, debonair James Bond who always seems to look good no matter what escapade he’s involved in. But as much as we want to be that tuxedo-wearing, vodka martini drinking badass, who plops himself down at a baccarat table and utters, “banco” whatever the hell that means, that isn’t Ryan.  

And Ryan isn’t the genetically engineered Jason Bourne, who can jump across buildings and beat another assassin’s ass with a dictionary. No. Ryan is one of us. He’s the geek in the cubicle down the hall who wears those Metallica shirts as he heads out the door for the weekend. He’s an average guy who is involved in extraordinary circumstances. 

Season 1 was a blast. Krasinski played it perfectly: the subordinate who isn’t afraid of stepping over the line with just that hint of being a Boston smartass (which he is BTW). He nailed the character. His interactions with Jim Greer, outstandingly played by Wendell Pierce, were the best part of the episodes. (Greer was played by James Earl Jones in the original films.)