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Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan Season 4 Review: A High-Intensity, High-Stakes Thrill Of An End

EDITORS' RATING : 8.5 / 10
  • The acting is exceptional
  • The action sequences are varied and interesting
  • The plot is more personal than it was in other seasons
  • The plot, especially initially, is convoluted

There have been many iterations of "Jack Ryan." The role has been filled by everyone from Alec Baldwin to Harrison Ford and from Ben Affleck to Chris Pine. That might make the TV show "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" seem like just another iteration of the man. But the series has stood out for several reasons. First of all, this Jack Ryan is played by John Krasinski, he of Pam and Jim from "The Office." And while the other men who played Jack Ryan were great, Krasinski has the audience's trust in a way few others could. Second, there's more time in a TV show, and therefore, we get to know more about Jack Ryan, yes, but also his bosses and the latest case he's working on.

So it's no surprise that through its first three seasons, "Jack Ryan" has earned positive reviews and found an eager audience. With the fourth season, it will likely receive more of the same with the added bonus that Jack's girlfriend Cathy (Abbie Cornish) is back, and so is James Greer's (Wendell Pierce) family as he tries to muddle through the vagaries of divorce and parenting with a high-powered job. In fact, this season Jack, Greer, and Elizabeth Wright (Betty Gabriel) are on the same page when it comes to the case of the moment. It's the politicians in Washington D.C. who aren't, as Jack and Wright attempt to get through confirmation hearings for Deputy Director and Director of the CIA.

The fourth and final season starts with a flashforward to Jack being tortured by unknown men. This is jolting and the most personal the show has ever gotten. After all, we've seen torture before, but never of Jack. Then the show flashes back to three weeks prior and the assassination of the Prime Minister of Lagos. Chao Fah in Myanmar gets the message from someone in Washington D.C. that the mission in Lagos was a success. This is followed by a trip to Mexico, where a cartel has managed to amass a great deal of power. We'll follow these three strands, in Lagos, Myanmar, and Mexico, throughout the season, seeing how they come together, and ultimately, what some people in our own government have to do with it. It's a thrilling season, and it starts and ends with Jack Ryan and his colleagues rooting out corruption.

New faces

While it's no surprise that Jack Ryan, James Greer, Elizabeth Wright, and Mike November (Michael Kelly) can be counted on to keep the action rolling, they're joined by a similarly powerful group of new faces. First, Michael Peña is exceptional as Domingo Chavez. He's a terse, actions-speak-louder-than-words type with none of the humor we saw from Peña in the "Ant-Man" films. He may be angry but he also wants to take the bad guys down, so he gets an express ticket to join Jack's team.

Equally great is Louis Ozawa as Chao Fah, the man from Myanmar who has his fingers in all sorts of things. Ozawa manages to play both good and bad, and ultimately make you like him anyway.

Then there's Zuleikha Robinson and Okieriete Onaodowan as Zeyara Lemos and Ade Osoji, respectively. We meet both of these individuals at a gala for the Nigeria Foundation at the Capitol, and they both take on outsized roles in the season. Zayara becomes a friend to Cathy, in particular, and convinces her to go to Myanmar in her capacity as a doctor with the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, Ade becomes a consultant on Wright, helping her through some sticky situations. To say more would ruin the surprises to come but they're both wonderful. All of these performers help make the show that much more interesting, and even in a show with a high caliber of actors, this season is especially noteworthy.

The action is incredible, but the plot is convoluted

Not only are the actors all at the top of their game, the action is top-notch, too. Whether it's November shooting at a gaggle of terrorists with from a helicopter or Greer escaping from someone who wants him dead by jumping off a bridge, the action is varied and interesting. There's a gauntlet of action scenes, but they don't repeat themselves. Instead, the central characters utilize a variety of methods to get the job done, whether that means guns or brains.

Still, the plot of the show begins with some convoluted elements. I suppose that could be said for the Seasons 1 through 3 as well, but this is the first time that I felt like it took a couple episodes before I really got what was going on. That's because of the way the plot stretches from Lagos to Myanmar to Mexico and into our own backyard. While other seasons have had the plot reach into far-flung areas, this is by far the most complicated plot and, because it's the shortest season to date at only six episodes, it has to explain everything in the shortest time.

That leaves a lot of information to take in, and sometimes the plot development flies by, leaving the viewer to try to catch up. Overall, however, by the time the plot really kicks into high gear in the third episode, the viewer is aware that the pieces are mostly in place. This leaves the second half of the season, which manages to be fantastic, gritty, and full of surprises. The storytelling gets more personal, too. Not only is Jack tortured, but Cathy is brought into the action, causing Jack to sweat in a way we haven't seen before. Greer is also given action that's more personal, so the whole thing hits much closer to home.

"Jack Ryan" is a long-in-the-tooth property that manages to be seen in a new way with the TV show. It's not revolutionary in its execution, but what it does it does very well, and this season is the best one yet. Krasinski leads the show with his grounded charisma, but everyone in the cast is very good. The show, despite the early plot issues, delivers what it promises better than most shows in this genre.

"Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" premieres with two episodes on Friday, June 30, with two new episodes premiering the following two weeks after that.