John Krasinski’s ‘Jack Ryan’ is a satisfying spy story

Russians replace Soviets in slightly corny Cold War-style drama

Jack Ryan
Where: Prime Video
What: Series, season 3, 8 episodes, 50 mins.
When: Wed., Dec. 21
Genre: Espionage
Why you should watch: Everybody’s backup boyfriend, John Krasinski, continues to prove he can do just about anything as he returns as “maverick” CIA dude Jack Ryan, convincingly playing rogue spy who refuses to play by the rules while saving the world, etc. And it works.

As Tom Cruise’s latest success with his Top Gun reboot proved, sometimes audiences like, even seek, what can dismissively be called cliché but ultimately is a comforting story where the good guys win and the bad guys pay the price.

In a chaotic world, reliable justice and consequences for ill deeds offer comfort.

Everybody’s favourite backup boyfriend, John Krasinski, goes down an equally familiar path in the latest season of his Jack Ryan series, in which he plays “a maverick” CIA dude who makes his own rules while determined to save the world. And it works.

Although set in the present day, this series, and especially this season, feels like the dense and forbidding, character-driven, plot-twist-laden spy films of the Cold War era. We get Russians instead of Soviets but the bad guys still like vodka and have a different view of the value of human life. Corny and somewhat clichéd, yes, but so what? That’s what we’re here for, the same way Cruise is still satisfying while recycling Top Gun tropes to adoring audiences.

Many of the Cold War spy flicks were part of a recurring series, from James Bond to Dennis Flint, and audiences were eager for more reliable heroes similar to Ryan. Nothing short of a global apocalypse was on the table, and dashing heroes were on hand to save the day from bad guys audiences could unequivocally revile — they wanted to destroy our way of life, after all.

Returning support cast members including long-suffering CIA pal James Greer (Wendell Pierce) —who routinely rolls his eyes but always helps Ryan out of his jams — add to the almost soothing skulduggery.

Krasinski ably satisfies all of the necessary hero essentials, including only reluctantly turning to violence though he is very good when the tough stuff is required. He also looks skyward very soulfully and his hair is always perfectly unkempt, proving even when there’s no mirror in sight, our hero will always look dashing,

Evil Russians slide easily into the Soviet bad guy spot and out-of-control machinations among the Russian elite put the world, or democracy at the very least, at fundamental risk.

It’s a complex plot with as many twists as a Moscow subway map, filled with double-crossing and fluid allegiances and even the CIA itself comes under suspicion.

Through it all, our hero remains resolute — and dreamy — breaking rules where necessary and breaking hearts inevitably.