[VoxSpace Selects] Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan : The Post-Apocalyptic World We Are Living In

A Roller Coaster Ride Of Globetrotting Adventure, The Story Of Our Personal Tragedy

Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is not just a crusade of the righteous against the evil, it is every man’s journey to the cross. In Clancy’s land, war-torn countries can practically believe in one form of divine intervention- military interference, a cruel and voyeuristic one, where, if you may, it is almost parallel to God arbitrarily controlling the lives in the war-torn Middle East from the safe distance of a video game. As Jack Ryan opens in Lebanon, two brothers hopping around with The Safety Dance yelping in the background, moments later helicopters flutter threateningly, the brothers stare in wonder.

The cruel juxtaposition of a pastoral life with armed violence does the rest of the magic- it would almost bring you back the monstrous roaring of warplanes in Grave of the Fireflies. They are instantly turned into orphans before you could blink; dispatched from the secured territories of their home to France, they are delivered at the receiving end of Islamophobia. As Noomi Rapace’s Harriet correctly points out, you are either French or nothing in Paris.  This ‘nothing’ opens up immense possibilities for Mousa bin Suleiman, one of the two brothers to have survived the bombing. His metamorphosis was not done or accomplished overnight. Jack Ryan, by the end of the eighth episode, remains somewhat a sensitive portrayal of extremism, ‘sophisticated propaganda’, voyeuristic military vigil, and of course, Islam versus the west.

Krasinki’s Jack Ryan VS Jim

John Krasinski’s Jack Ryan will mildly remind you of Jim’s candour and charm from The Office. Let’s be honest, Jack Ryan is not without the subdued manifestation of his Jim-ish eccentricities. It is also somewhat comforting to see a hero going completely out of his depth, under the burden of soaring expectations and challenges propping up every now and then. In Yemen when Ryan is faced with a gridlock, we see fear dripping from every pore of his skin. We understand this guy, an analyst, who works from behind a desk, and was hours before trying to woo a woman, needs his own time before he can adjust to the histrionics of a terrorist encounter.

Jack Ryan oscillates between the Middle East, Alps, Paris and CIA’s sophisticated cyber tracking glass paned cubicles. Jack’s composure suddenly shifts to scenes breaking into dumbfounding violence, the wild tempo often mellows down to a soulful melancholy. The duo Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland ensured that the variations and nerve-wracking situations were maintained in Jack Ryan.

The Question Of Belongingness Of Other Characters

Ryan’s character does not devour the other characters and sub-plots, the characters are not thrown in a limbo so that our Boy Scout ‘hero’ can be magnified and portrayed in a herculean avatar. Suleiman and Ali played by Ali Suliman and Haaz Sleiman respectively are spectacular. Suleiman has been given a substantial amount of screen time, probably because this character has been created with multiple dimensions- a fundamentalist, immaculate manipulator, overbearing husband, loving father, and shrewd executioner; the flashback scenes do justice to the in-flux narrative.

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As Suleiman’s story unfolds, you eventually would come to terms with the fact he never needed a major leap of faith to believe in extremist propaganda. Suleiman has been on both sides of the battlefield, and the realm he has built is not merely a decision that can be traced to his religious affiliation. The anger stems from an immense sense of personal loss and tragedy of his nation- a traumatizing childhood failed efforts to establish a career, and years’ of humiliation because of his status as a Muslim immigrant.

Set against the backdrop of the 21st century dystopian society, we see how the propaganda revolves around the Islamic concept of iman. Suleiman’s determination to create a land of the Prophet by killing the ‘other’ apostates prompts a series of tragedy in motion. The transformation of a church into a gas chamber, the killing of the ‘impotent’, with people dying like flies, and lights gleaming indifferently near the Holy altar. As everybody erupts into a frenzy after Suleiman’s Paris attack, he reinstates that children of his motherland die every day without the world or the media giving a hoot.

Worth A Watch!

Clancy’s merit lies in breaking away from stereotypes surrounding Jihadists and state terrorism. Within the limited scope of a web series, the narrative is considerably compact in handling characters’ personal conflicts, and in the process becomes a critique of a post 9/11 western mindset, technological agility, and western imperialism. Since, the plot infuses and juxtaposes different languages, accents and culture, let’s take a minute to appreciate the efforts by Amir El-masry, and Wendell Pierce among others, who have delivered it with such panache and authenticity.

 

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Jack Ryan is immensely contemporary and well researched, with a brilliant cinematography, the locales and cultural differences blend in perfectly. In spite of being a web series, it has the rare quality to impose visual perceptions on audiences. Cus and Roland will make sure that once you plunge into, there is no leaving it hanging halfway.