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Why liberal critics hated Amazon’s Jack Ryan (and why you’ll probably love it)



Why liberal critics hated Amazons Jack Ryan and why youll probably love it

No spoilers ahead. We’re going to talk about Amazon’s Jack Ryan television show from a general perspective.

With a modest 72% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear that most critics enjoyed the 8-episode streaming series based on the late Tom Clancy’s beloved leading man. Even many politically progressive critics couldn’t get past the strong quality, great acting, and compelling storyline. Others, however, chose to politicize it and pass judgment based on one overarching message.

There’s just too much patriotism and not enough “blame America” for these political progressives to appreciate it. For example:

Jack Ryan Is a Patriotic Nightmare seems that in order to get a portrait of a Syrian woman grappling with personal and political crises, one must also slog through the narrative of an unimpressive American man. If you guess that the show hinges on Jack Ryan rescuing her from her evil terrorist husband, well—spoiler alert!—you would be right. And that says basically everything you need to know: this is a propulsive, enthusiastic, confident action-thriller that makes a glossy, gooey narrative of American generosity and valor. It lauds Jack Ryan—a true American hero who unfailingly escalates every situation and lacks even basic collaborative skills—while neglecting to even attempt to challenge the narrative of noble American involvement and intervention abroad. Both its protagonist and its plot are based on the foundational, unquestioned notion that American-military might—the best-funded killing infrastructure in human history—is helping to save the world.

What are the sins that made some liberal critics cringe? To answer that, let’s get an idea for what they would have like to have seen. Based on the negative reviews I’ve read, there were a few themes that recurred, changes that they would have preferred. The biggest one was the way the American government was depicted.

In the eyes of these critics, a spy story can’t be good unless the scenario involves evil American overlords. They want the bad guys to turn out being pawns of the military industrial complex, proxies for the CIA, or good guys driven to do bad things because of American greed.

The other major flaw, as progressive critics saw it, was that radical Islamic terrorism was just that… radical Islamic terrorism. The story had young Muslim men being radicalized in jail, Islamic militants who were rapists and murderers, girls being taken as brides, and terrorist plots that centered simply around promoting Islam rather than feeding a starving village or avenging a filthy act if violence perpetrated by westerners.

In other words, the story stayed within a plausible modern storyline rather than romanticizing the plight of an oppressed people, as many progressives see things.

The saddest part about these reviews is they neglected to notice aspects of the story that balanced it against the two perceived flaws. The good guys weren’t immaculate. There was an awkward scene of anti-Muslim racism by a key character, a couple of government officials who were motivated by power more than justice, and a good guy willing to look away from human sex trade in order to get help catching the terrorists.

On the other side, there were admirable Muslims among the bad guys and a couple of good guys who were Muslims. Some of the kindest acts in the series were performed by Muslims, and arguably the second and third smartest characters in the series were terrorists.

This show has its share of problems, but ideological expressions were not among them. Don’t let liberal critics dragging down the ratings prevent you from watching a thoroughly enjoyable and completely binge-worthy show. I’ve been a fan of Amazon Originals since watching Bosch and this show adds to their growing resume of great productions.

Star John Krasinksi is my favorite Jack Ryan yet. That’s hard to say as a Harrison Ford fan, but he brings an emotional depth to the character that Ford simply didn’t have time to do. Ford’s two movies were pure action flicks while this 8 episode season gave Krasinski and the writers enough time to give him flesh.

The main supporting characters were also perfectly cast to offer Krasinski sharp dialogue. Abbie Cornish was more than a love interest as Cathy Mueller, offering an appropriate foil as a doctor to Ryan’s CIA officer angst. John Hoogenakker is the stereotypical elite military operative who somehow breaks the stereotype despite the script. Lastly, Wendell Pierce took his character to a higher level as the broken but not beaten James Greer.

Above all else, this is a spy thriller. Some critics seem to have forgotten that point and instead wished for a more cerebral spy melodrama or something. Don’t let them keep your from this show. If you like excellent action supported by a smart story and wrapped in an American flag, Jack Ryan is worth a watch.


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