Created for television by Carlton Cuse (“Lost,” “Bates Motel”) and Graham Roland (“Fringe,” “Prison Break”), who did not base the series on a Clancy novel but came up with an original story, “Jack Ryan” spends much of its pilot establishing Jack’s background in the military, his dedication to his work as a CIA analyst of financial transactions, his relationship with his boss, James Greer (Wendell Pierce, “The Wire”), and his introduction to his future wife, Dr. Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish). That makes for a little bit of a pokily-paced pilot until the last quarter of the hour when Jack takes a trip overseas and unwittingly becomes part of a fire fight.
A more exciting episode two makes clear that “Jack Ryan” lands somewhere between the soapier “24” and the more political/intellectual “Homeland” on a scale of terrorism-themed TV dramas.
The eight-episode first season follows Jack as he tracks and tries to capture terrorist Mousa Bin Suleiman (Ali Suliman), who gets a heartbreaking backstory in the pilot’s opening moments. (Of local note: While Ryan was from Baltimore in Mr. Clancy’s novels, when Ryan’s boss looks in his file, Ryan’s place of birth is listed as Pittsburgh.)
Filmic in its look and style – the series screams “big budget” – “Jack Ryan” has its exciting moments, and even when there are not explosions on screen, the presence of the always-likeable Mr. Krasinski easily pulls viewers through to the next exciting action set piece.