“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” has been a huge hit with the masses already and has become a fan favorite since it was released.
The Office and A Quiet Place actor John Krasinski is currently nailing it as the eponymous Jack Ryan, former Marine-turned CIA analyst, in the new series from Amazon.
It has already been touted as the best Jack Ryan series by most fans and is gearing up for its fourth and potentially final season. Many Jack Ryan books and movies have been released over the years and people often get confused regarding the actual timeline of the shows and the movies.
Let’s dive into these and try to answer all the questions.
1. Is the Jack Ryan series connected to the movies?
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, “The Sum of All Fears”, “The Hunt for Red October”, and “And Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” along with the Harrison Ford Jack Ryan movies have a very important connection to Amazon’s Jack Ryan show led by John Krasinski.
In a lot of ways, Tom Clancy was ahead of his time with his many novels that took place within a shared universe- as opposed to just doing a bunch of more traditional sequel stories like most novel series do.
Although the film adaptions were always one-offs that never really added to anything as a whole, that seems to be changing now as Amazon and Paramount might be firing up a Clancyverse built to more modern standards.
It is been speculated that if a Clancyverse is indeed on the cards, it’s starting with a two-pronged approach, first with “Jack Ryan” focusing on, well John Krasinski’s Jack Ryan and now “Without Remorse” introducing the man who will later become John Clark.
John Clark was previously played by the sensational Willem Dafoe and Live Schrieber, and now getting the Michael B. Jordan treatment.
“Jack Ryan” and “Without Remorse” might not have common characters. But “Jack Ryan” will get a potential fourth season soon and “Without Remorse” ending too teased a “Rainbow Six” movie.
“Without Remorse” does, however, include a direct line to “Jack Ryan,” which relates to a new character Karen Greer, played by Jodie Turner-Smith- the niece of one Jim Greer. Karen Greer relates to a major character from Tom Clancy’s novels and has featured prominently in most of the Jack Ryan-focused movie adaptions as well as the “Jack Ryan” show.
It’s difficult to guess the significance of Karen Greer’s existence since “Without Remorse” hardly makes any other reference to characters from “Jack Ryan” or anything that happened on the show.
For now, it just feels like a nod to the greater franchise, but in such a small way that her appearance doesn’t come with any promises about what’s coming next.
This move is clever enough to make the fans excited though.
2. The Jack Ryan Connection
“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” series has entertained book readers since the character’s introduction way back in “The Hunt for Red October” novel released in 1984.
Since then, the CIA analyst has appeared in over 21 books and spin-offs, which combine to create a massive universe jam-packed with popular side characters and intriguing plots centered around politics and covert missions executed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” has some visible connections with other Jack Ryan movies like Shadow Recruit and The Sum of All Fears
Let’s get a clear understanding of the Jack Ryan timeline.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit talks about Jack’s early days
“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” was not a good movie and we all admit that. But there was still the excitement and thrill of exploring Jack Ryan’s early days as an undercover CIA operative.
Chris Pine played the titular character who is still trying to work his back from an injury sustained in a helicopter accident. That’s where he met future Mrs. Ryan, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), a medical student with lofty career ambitions.
However, it was one of those wrong-time romances, since Jack is recruited by CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to covertly monitor Wall Street for terrorist activity. The assignment ultimately leads Jack to Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh, who also directed), a Russian businessman who plans to destroy the United States ‘Financial infrastructure.
The film’s climax saw Jack head to the White House, presumably to take up a more prominent position in Washington D.C.
3. Jack Ryan Season 1 also dealt with the origins
The failure of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” at the box office prompted Amazon to reboot the Tom Clancy franchise (again) via the television series “Jack Ryan” starring John Krasinski as the titular character.
Once again, we saw his origins, starting from his initial encounters with Cathy Mueller (Abbie Cornish) as well as a young James Greer (Wendell Pierce).
We learn about the helicopter accident and witness Jack’s ascension from desk analyst to field operative as part of the Terror, Finance, and Arms Division (T-FAD) of the CIA.
We see Jack take on an Islamic terrorist named Mouse bin Suleiman (Ali Suliman) who plans to infect America with the Ebola virus ( a plot point lifted from Clancy’s “Executive Orders”). Jack manages to save the day and make things right with Cathy, who is none too happy to discover that her boyfriend works for the CIA.
The first season had a similar end just like the movie and we saw Jack replace Greer as head of T-FAD after he rises to deputy station chief in Moscow, setting the stage for further adventures.
“Jack Ryan” Season 1 might not have been perfect but it surely did a better job in balancing the action with smarts and feels more in line with Clancy’s novels, particularly with how it utilizes real-world events and politics to frame its story around.
4. “The Sum of All Fears” featured a low-level Jack Ryan
If one were trying to watch this franchise in order, then it makes sense to place “The Sum of All Fears” between the first two seasons of “Jack Ryan.”
Once again, we got an origin story for our hero, this time played by a young Ben Affleck.
We go through initial procedural points again- how Jack met Cathy, his days as a low-level analyst at the CIA, and his introduction to the inner workings of the government via the Greer-like William “Bill” Cabot (Morgan Freeman).
Except for the fact that this time director Phil Alden Robinson and writers Paul Attansio and Daniel Pyne have got the good sense to use one of Tom Clancy’s books as a guide.
“The Sum of All Fears” follows Jack as he attempts to stop a war from starting between the United States and Russia after a group of neo-Nazis destroys the Super Bowl stadium with a nuclear weapon.
Our boy engages in atypical action beats and even goes on a sojourn with a young John Clark (here played by Liev Schreiber) before using his wits to convince the President of the United States (James Cromwell) from attacking Russia in retaliation.
He proposes to Cathy and the couple enjoys a romantic picnic whilst witnessing a peaceful union between the U.S. and Russia.
Jack Ryan Season 2 sees Jack come into his own a bit
After a surprisingly thrilling first season, Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” fizzled out relatively quickly in its sophomore frame.
While John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce are perfectly fine in their respective roles as Jack Ryan and James Greer, the series posits them within a generic action plot designed around the CIA’s efforts to stabilize Venezuela.
Notably absent on this go-round is Cathy Mueller, replaced instead by the mysterious Harriet Baumann (Noomi Rapace), who seduces and then uses Jack for her own devices.
5. “The Hunt For Red October is an incredible one-off.”
“The hunt for Red October” is technically the first Jack Ryan movie ever produced since it arrived in 1990.
The movie differs from Amazon’s Jack Ryan in the sense that McTiernan’s picture doesn’t exactly function as an origin story. The plot mainly focuses on Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), the commanding officer of a submarine called Red October, and his efforts to defect to the United States.
Alec Baldwin’s Jack Ryan focuses more on his attempts to convince Washington of Ramius’ intentions. The movie hardly discusses Ryan’s personal life, unlike the series.
The glimpses of Cathy and Sally, discussions of Ryan’s helicopter accident, and his long-time friendship with Admiral Greer are the only similarities the movie shares with the new series.
6. The Older Jack Ryan in “Patriot Games”
Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan offered something entirely new. The movie differs a lot from the series since it focuses on an older Jack Ryan, now retired from the CIA, enjoying life as a professor at the United States Naval Academy.
While giving a lecture in London, Ryan thwarts an attack on the queen’s cousin attempted by a renegade faction of the IRA.
In the confusion, terrorist Sean Miller (Sean Bean) is captured while his brother is shot and killed by Ryan. Miller vows revenge, escapes prison, and targets Ryan’s pregnant wife and daughter.
This forces Jack to return to the CIA and with the help of Greer, he tries to seek out and eliminate Sean Miller and his band of terrorists before their actions cause further harm.
The movie relates to the Amazon show in its violence and the action-packed even though both of them got completely different plotlines.
Jack continues working for the CIA in “Clear and Present Danger”
“Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger” remain the only entries in the Jack Ryan franchise that operate in tandem, even if they remain decidedly standalone vehicles.
In “Clear and Present Danger” we learned that Jack and Cathy had a son-in between films– a plot thread which was left hanging at the end of “Patriot Games”-whom they dub Jack jr.
“Clear and Present Danger” even hardly has any connection to the John Krasinski show as it continues the plot line of “Patriot Games”. The Ryans are essentially where we left them, albeit in a different home and packing a little more age and wisdom under their belts.
At some point, President Bennett (Donald Moffat) takes office and James Greer contracts cancer.
The plot in “Danger” kicks off when a friend of President Bennett is murdered (along with his wife and daughter) aboard a yacht by Escobedo’s men.
Ryan is put in charge of the case and once again finds himself stuck dealing with everything from corrupt politicians to dangerous hitmen in a way that follows a similar premise to the series but in a different timeline.
Clear and Present Danger puts Jack in the lead whose cinematic journey ends with the movie.
The movie focuses on James Greer’s death and the series has entered the area of Greer’s health issues too thus trying to establish a connection here.
The Ryan series has had difficulties in establishing itself within the modern cinematic landscape after Harrison Ford’s departure.
Still, after several reboots and prequels, it’s nice to see Jack finally come into his own, even if his actions in Season 2 are far too outlandish to take seriously.
The character is at his best when he’s solving problems in Washington or thrust into combat against his will. Jack Ryan is not an action hero, but a thinking man who leans more on his vast intellect than his physical strengths.
Season 3 of “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan” just arrived and has been receiving rave reviews from critics and the audience alike thus setting it up for a massive finale season already.
7. About Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan
Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (also known simply as Jack Ryan) is an American political action thriller television series based on characters from the fictional “Ryanverse” created by Tom Clancy that premiered on Amazon Prime Video.
The first season follows the CIA analyst as he discovers a string of dubious bank transfers carried out by a rising Islamic extremist named Suleiman. The second season sees Jack in the middle of political warfare in a corrupt Venezuela. The third one will see Jack on the run and in a race against time.
Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland created the series, and Cuse serves as an executive producer alongside John Krasinski, Michael Bay, and Mace Neufeld, among others. Krasinski also stars in the series as the title character.