Suleiman is not the name of the show I’m reviewing, but unfortunately, it would have been more apt based on the six episodes of Jack Ryan available for press prior the new Amazon series dropping on Friday, August 31.
John Krasinski, still best known for his role on The Office yet fast becoming a movie star in his own right, plays the titular Jack Ryan with the requisite finesse.
But the story never quite catches fire for the former Marine turned CIA analyst getting his feet wet again on the ground as far more time is spent on the nuances and particulars of bad guy Mousa Bin Suleiman (Ali Suliman).
The first scene of the series features not what established the life of Ryan, but what drove Suleiman to become the hunted man Ryan finds -- think the next Osama Bin Laden.
Suleiman has a family and motivation from childhood forward for all of his actions. As he is of the Muslim faith, plenty of care is taken to ensure he isn’t a one-dimensional villain. There are countermeasures taken elsewhere in the series, too, to so that his religion isn’t painted in a dark light.
Related: Enjoy UNLIMITED access to thousands of Movies and TV shows with Amazon Prime Video
He's a great character, and there are times it feels as if I'm watching a spinoff of FX's Tyrant, and Barry had another messed up brother out there we never knew about and it just so happens that Jack Ryan is on his tail.
That should tell you how much time is spent grounding the Suleiman family.
At the same time, there is a character on the periphery, an American serviceman who operates drones and has a conscience he can’t control, who balances the good guys by reminding the audience America aren’t the good guys.
That message, though, wasn’t needed, as it takes so long for Ryan and his new boss to get into the swing of being heroic (and that’s who we’ve known Ryan to be through five feature films) that the countermeasures seem excessive.
Related: Forever: First Look at Amazon's Upcoming Fred Armison and Maya Rudolph Comedy
Ryan, who was severely injured in his life as a marine, seems perfectly suited to his desk job as an analyst, other than the fact he’s ridiculously fit and could run rings around others if given the opportunity both physically and mentally.
When his new boss, James Greer, played by the ever-captivating Wendell Pierce, finds the talent hidden in Ryan, he escalates his desk job to fieldwork despite Ryan’s protests.
Not nearly enough time is spent bolstering the relationship between Ryan and Greer, but it’s when they finally find themselves spending more of it together that the show lights up. The action increases, the dialogue improves, and Krasinski gets to embody the Jack Ryan we intend for him to be as the show moves forward.
Suliman is more than capable as the cracked Suleiman whose love for his family and his religion, among other things, turns him into an angry and vengeful soul. He’s too capable, which is why so much focu..