Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Joke Ryan

 

I loved “Hunt for Red October,” the first Jack Ryan movie. Alec Baldwin is a fine actor who filled the role nicely, and it had Sean Connery as the best Scottish-accented Soviet sub commander, and also Fred Thompson who smoked cigarettes and said things with flat dismay. A great movie. The subsequent movies had Indiana Jones as Jack Ryan, right? Were there others? Doesn’t quite matter – the character isn’t rooted in a particular actor, and doesn’t have many attributes aside from “CIA data dude who can also shoot people in the head if need be.” Amazon made a Jack Ryan series a few years ago, starring Jim from “The Office” and Bunk from “The Wire,” and it was pretty good: the Islamist terrorist was the bad guy, not a front for a shadowy group of businessmen fronted by Jon Voight, as happened all the time in “24.”

This new season is taking some flak for its rearrangement of reality: it’s set in Venezuela, which is run by a sleek, manicured dude named Nicholas who is . . . a nationalist! Heavy right-wing vibes. His domestic political opponent is . . . a Social Justice candidate! The young kids who are opposed to the government are described by one exasperated character as “leftists.” In other words: Bizarro World. 

It has an unintended message: nationalist right-wing Venezuela seems much more prosperous than the socialist real-world version; the lights are on at night, no one looks hungry, the bars are full. Oh, there are lines, but no one’s turning over dumpsters for dinner. And the “social justice” candidate and her handlers believe they can win the upcoming election, as opposed to the actual Venezuelan election situation. So it’s not a police state with roving armed bands imposing the state’s authority.

In other words, the writers looked at actual Venezuela, and said “boring. Needs to be recast along the lines of a Mission: Impossible episode.”

Had a conversation with a liberal friend about the matter, and he wondered if it was ignorance of reality, or intentional. I suggested it was intentional. Now I wonder if it’s both, because in the 3rd episode, Jack Ryan is dismissing the possibility that the local socialist terrorist group could have mounted an operation against a US Senator. And I quote:

“The FLA is a tiny leftist militia. Anti-Americanism isn’t in their DNA.”

It’s impossible to write that line without assuming utter ignorance on the part of the audience. Utter, total, complete, historical ignorance.

Published in Entertainment
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 60 comments.

  1. Samuel Block Member

    The power of willful ignorance is remarkable. When I think of the importance of soviet citizens participating in the fulfillment of arrest quotas, the fact that intellectuals are able to think around it all from the comfort of a few hundred miles of separation becomes more digestible to me.

    • #1
    • November 4, 2019, at 11:18 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  2. Gary McVey Contributor

    “Anti-Americanism isn’t in their DNA”. 

    There’s so much anti-Americanism in the world’s cultural DNA that I’m beginning to wonder if Consumer Reports in the late ’50s had a point about the long term effects of Strontium-90.

    • #2
    • November 5, 2019, at 1:42 AM PST
    • 17 likes
  3. Arahant Member

    “More weed to the writers’ room, dude.”

    • #3
    • November 5, 2019, at 2:45 AM PST
    • 18 likes
  4. Douglas Pratt Member

    The problem is that those images are powerful, and become reality for a lot of otherwise-intelligent people.

    • #4
    • November 5, 2019, at 3:15 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  5. MarciN Member

    James Lileks: It has an unintended message: nationalist right-wing Venezuela seems much more prosperous than the socialist real-world version; the lights are on at night, no one looks hungry, the bars are full. Oh, there are lines, but no one’s turning over dumpsters for dinner.

    I’ll have to tell my husband about this. :-) He’s a Jack Ryan fan and didn’t completely hate what Amazon did to the story and characters in the first season. He was kinda looking forward to the second season. He watched the first episode up to the murder of the our Venezuelan ambassador and then shut it off: “I can’t watch this. It’s a failed state that is way too close to home and too friendly with China and Russia.” I watched that much with him, and I thought the same thing. Sometimes fiction is too close to seeming probable to be entertaining in any way. Perhaps the series lightens up sufficiently that he can go back to watching it again.

    We once watched a director and producer’s interview about the making of the movie National Treasure with Nicolas Cage. The video contained an additional ten minutes of film of the scene at the end where the cave is collapsing and the actors are trying to escape. The director made the comment that they cut these minutes during the editing process because they felt it went beyond what the audience could bear. That was an interesting comment and one that comes back to us from time to time. This new Jack Ryan series felt just like that–too close to home, too possible, too scary to watch. I wonder if the producers and directors lightened it up because the truth is simply too much for viewers to bear. It is not fun to see the reality of life in Venezuela right now.

    • #5
    • November 5, 2019, at 3:40 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  6. Kozak Member

    I was looking forward to the new HBO “Watchmen” series. First episode was all Racists and White Nationalists. So woke it put me into a coma.

    So, just no.

    • #6
    • November 5, 2019, at 4:20 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  7. WI Con Member

    I watched the series as well and was similarly struck by the ignorance but also incoherence/implausibility of the plot. The writing had this feel of a Soderbergh protégé being tasked with coming up with a South American Strongman plot. You could recognize the disjointed ahistorical, socialistic/adolescent economic theories and America self-loathing one comes to expect in too many productions.

    There are some great action and location scenes though.

    I’d be curious to know the agenda/motivation of the writes and producers. There definately is one but it’s pitched clumsily.

     

     

    • #7
    • November 5, 2019, at 4:37 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  8. danok1 Member

    Set aside the “flipping” of reality in Venezuela. The writers included such boneheaded scenes as (SPOILER) Jack leaving documents out in his hotel room in Caracas and then picking up a woman (Noomi Rapace) in the bar and taking her to his room. Yes, she does flip through the documents and photograph them while Jack sleeps it off, but no one could have seen that coming, right?

    WI Con (View Comment):
    There are some great action and location scenes though.

    Only reason I’m still watching it, Well, that and Allan Hawco (Coyote). Great to hear a Newfie accent in Venezuela.

    • #8
    • November 5, 2019, at 5:23 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  9. Boney Cole Member

    I really liked the scene where they jumped out of the plane with the boat. Seemingly implausible, but thrilling. Watched it shortly after the raid in Syria. I was ready to join up, would need a super Hunter Biden waiver at 63, however. 

    Was very disappointed about almost every other aspect, particularly the flipping of the right/left politics.

    • #9
    • November 5, 2019, at 5:46 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  10. Jon1979 Lincoln

    James Lileks:

    Had a conversation with a liberal friend about the matter, and he wondered if it was ignorance of reality, or intentional. I suggested it was intentional. Now I wonder if it’s both, because in the 3rd episode, Jack Ryan is dismissing the possibility that the local socialist terrorist group could have mounted an operation against a US Senator. And I quote:

    “The FLA is a tiny leftist militia. Anti-Americanism isn’t in their DNA.”

    It’s impossible to write that line without assuming utter ignorance on the part of the audience. Utter, total, complete, historical ignorance.

    Venezuela and Hugo were a big fan fave among the Hollywood progressive trendies a decade ago, Nick Maduro less so because by the time Chavez died, the country was already in free-fall.

    The people in the U.S. who loved Chavez for his socialism and his “Bush is the devil” speech at the U.N. wanted to think that once Obama was elected that Venezuela and America would become comrades in arms in the glorious march to the worker’s paradise. Not quite how it played out, but we’re now far enough away from Hugo’s death that his Hollywood supporters can tinker with the timeline, and try to convince themselves/viewers that the country’s current hell-holiness has nothing to do with the Socialism Chavez pushed. What problems they have is all on the shoulders of Maduro, and Nick isn’t even a Socialist — he’s a thug nationalist (like Trump), who the Chavistas would have fought in the name of social justice, if only poor Hugo was still alive to lead the revolution.

    That could be why they think they can redefine reality here. Let a few more years pass and we may be to the point where Hollywood and others on the left think they can convince the public that Venezuela was Shangra-La until after 1/20/17, when Trump took over and instituted foreign policy actions that ruined the nation.

    • #10
    • November 5, 2019, at 6:07 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  11. Songwriter Member

    The Right/Left politics switch bothered me, as well. I didn’t enjoy this season as much as the first. Spoiler Alert: I also saw the Senator Bad Guy plot point coming a mile away. Such a tired Hollywood trope. Though I marveled that the writers didn’t make the bad guy Senator a Southern Republican stereotype.

    • #11
    • November 5, 2019, at 6:18 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  12. danok1 Member

    Songwriter (View Comment):

    The Right/Left politics switch bothered me, as well. I didn’t enjoy this season as much as the first. Spoiler Alert: I also saw the Senator Bad Guy plot point coming a mile away. Such a tired Hollywood trope. Though I marveled that the writers didn’t make the bad guy Senator a Southern Republican stereotype.

    I’ve only finished episode 3, but if I’m anticipating things correctly, they did name that Senator “Mitch.” Close enough for government work.

    • #12
    • November 5, 2019, at 6:31 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Spin Coolidge

    I’m sorry, but Jim Halpert just doesn’t do it for me. I keep waiting for him to look at the camera with that smirk. I liked John Krasinski as Jim Halpert. I even liked him in the Benghazi movie. But this series doesn’t do it for me.

    You want to watch something good, watch Peaky Blinders.

    • #13
    • November 5, 2019, at 6:37 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  14. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Young people today have been so indoctrinated in leftist ideology and government-worship that they will believe anything they see on TV. That and the internet is where they get all their information.

    • #14
    • November 5, 2019, at 6:42 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. danok1 Member

    Spin (View Comment):
    You want to watch something good, watch Peaky Blinders.

    Fact check: 100% True.

    • #15
    • November 5, 2019, at 6:48 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  16. Brian Watt Member

    There was a glimpse that the series was headed this way when Ryan’s boss was made a devout Muslim in Season One. If Clancy were alive, I think he might have thrown his MacBook Pro at the one responsible for the politically correct change. I was anticipating that the second season wouldn’t further descend into PC silliness. I guess it’s moved well beyond that into historical revisionism and nonsense. 

    I watched the first few minutes of the first episode of Season 2 before turning it off and doing more important things like cleaning the cat box and taking the garbage out. I haven’t been impressed with Noomi Rapace since the phenomenally bad, poorly written, scientifically bereft Prometheus. Now Rapace seems to be in every terrorist thriller being cranked out. I’m sorry, but this petite female doesn’t convince me as an intimidating anything; and I rolled my eyes when she takes down a brawny man twice her size in the blink of an eye. Whatever.

    • #16
    • November 5, 2019, at 7:03 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  17. Doug Watt Member

    I think there is a certain amount of laziness when it comes to script writing at times. Madame Secretary is cartoonish. It might as well have been titled Young Hillary.

    An insulated environment and so called creative story telling is hampered by avoiding risk. One doesn’t want to offend the closed circle, and after all we don’t know anyone that doesn’t think like we do.

    Some of this is apparent in British police dramas, and in some prime time American police series. One exception was Bosch on Amazon Prime. It probably helped that Michael Connolly, the author of the Bosch series had a great deal of experience with LAPD officers as a crime reporter, and was the executive producer for the series.

    • #17
    • November 5, 2019, at 7:37 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  18. Old Bathos Member

    I did not sense a big right-wing vibe for the bad guy. Ryan (or someone) does say early on that the dictator has run the economy into the ground (a la Chavez/Maduro). But almost everything about the dictator’s behavior was weird. For example, why did the dictator fear an election he could easily rig? And why did the opposition party have such a free hand to organize? Why was the TV news free to report on stuff the dictator does not want reported? Why send soldiers to suddenly stop the voting when you control the counting anyway? All was very lame.

    The thing I found especially disappointing was the plot point of heavyweight Senator (named “Mitch”, oh c’mon..seriously?) plotting to steal mineral resources in league with mercenaries and other bad guys as the ultimate villain. Really weak.

    The assassination of the good guy senator scene on the street felt like I had seen the same sequence, the same camera angles in other movies (e.g., Clear and Present Danger)

    And how does Jack Ryan wind up in a ballroom upstairs for a gratuitous election-night confrontation when the target of the rescue is clearly downstairs. This ruthless dictator does not have beaucoup guys with automatic weapons around him at all times?

    • #18
    • November 5, 2019, at 8:12 AM PST
    • 9 likes
  19. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    I was looking forward to the new HBO “Watchmen” series. First episode was all Racists and White Nationalists. So woke it put me into a coma.

    So, just no.

    To be fair, with this sort of limited series (it’s only 9 episodes long), one should usually withhold judgement until the entire season is complete. The first episodes are often full of misdirection.

    • #19
    • November 5, 2019, at 8:58 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  20. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks Post author

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    Now Rapace seems to be in every terrorist thriller being cranked out. I’m sorry, but this petite female doesn’t convince me as an intimidating anything; and I rolled my eyes when she takes down a brawny man twice her size in the blink of an eye. Whatever.

    That was ridiculous, and a warning: whatever theoretically-plausible vibe the first season might have had (and I do recall it wasn’t the typically fantastical sort of action movie) this would be sheer fantasy. 

    • #20
    • November 5, 2019, at 9:01 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  21. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks Post author

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    One exception was Bosch on Amazon Prime. It probably helped that Michael Connolly, the author of the Bosch series had a great deal of experience with LAPD officers as a crime reporter, and was the executive producer for the series.

    Best cop show on the streaming services. 

    • #21
    • November 5, 2019, at 9:02 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  22. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    I have watched the series to the end.

    Its basically a lot of turn your brain off fun.

    The final episode was really ridiculous.

    I never got the feeling that the President was right wing. More just old line left wing, being replaced by new line left wing.

    They would have been better off putting the show in Bolivia or Honduras.

    I did like the show better than the first season.

    • #22
    • November 5, 2019, at 10:27 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  23. WI Con Member

    Spin (View Comment):

    I’m sorry, but Jim Halpert just doesn’t do it for me. I keep waiting for him to look at the camera with that smirk. I liked John Krasinski as Jim Halpert. I even liked him in the Benghazi movie. But this series doesn’t do it for me.

    You want to watch something good, watch Peaky Blinders.

    Loved Peaky Blinders but this latest season was not very good. Seemed as though they had an entirely different team of writers (maybe due to the hiatus of the show?) but it was very hard to follow or care about following.

    • #23
    • November 5, 2019, at 10:28 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  24. Steve C. Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    I was looking forward to the new HBO “Watchmen” series. First episode was all Racists and White Nationalists. So woke it put me into a coma.

    So, just no.

    Then don’t listen to the HBO Watchmen podcast. It’s woke turned up to 12.

    • #24
    • November 5, 2019, at 10:47 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  25. Dr. Bastiat Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    One exception was Bosch on Amazon Prime. It probably helped that Michael Connolly, the author of the Bosch series had a great deal of experience with LAPD officers as a crime reporter, and was the executive producer for the series.

    Best cop show on the streaming services.

    Absolutely. Superb.

    I hope they keep making it. Has anyone heard if there is more Bosch coming?

    • #25
    • November 5, 2019, at 10:51 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. mildlyo Member

    I think you are giving the first season too much credit. It reminded me of The Peacemaker from 1997. Feminism and action thrillers are a mismatch. Lots of Woke also.

    Haven’t seen the second season. Not that interested in more of the same.

    • #26
    • November 5, 2019, at 11:14 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  27. danok1 Member

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    One exception was Bosch on Amazon Prime. It probably helped that Michael Connolly, the author of the Bosch series had a great deal of experience with LAPD officers as a crime reporter, and was the executive producer for the series.

    Best cop show on the streaming services.

    Absolutely. Superb.

    I hope they keep making it. Has anyone heard if there is more Bosch coming?

    According to a retweet by the official Amazon Bosch account, Season 6 is in production.

     

    • #27
    • November 5, 2019, at 11:31 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  28. Max Ledoux Admin

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

     

    Some of this is apparent in British police dramas, and in some prime time American police series. One exception was Bosch on Amazon Prime. It probably helped that Michael Connolly, the author of the Bosch series had a great deal of experience with LAPD officers as a crime reporter, and was the executive producer for the series.

    Bosch is the best Amazon Prime series. 

    I watched the first season of Jack Ryan, and like Lileks kept on waiting for the real bad guy to be some shadowy American. In a way, though, it was. The bad guy, the Islamist, was radicalized after his parents were killed by an American missile strike. So who’s really at fault? To drive home the point, they had the whole weird subplot of the drone pilot who feels guilty for what he does.

    So I was kind of meh about season 2 and when I heard that it was about how Venezuela is right-wing, I said no thanks.

    Also, Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a bad show. The lead is not funny, even allowing for 50’s humor. (Tony Shalhoub is great, though.)

    • #28
    • November 5, 2019, at 11:37 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  29. danok1 Member

    Max Ledoux (View Comment):
    To drive home the point, they had the whole weird subplot of the drone pilot who feels guilty for what he does.

    I think the drone pilot (who we last saw AWOL in the Middle East, can’t recall which country) comes into play in season 3. As a radicalized convert, of course.

    • #29
    • November 5, 2019, at 11:49 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  30. SpiritO'78 Member

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    There was a glimpse that the series was headed this way when Ryan’s boss was made a devout Muslim in Season One.

    I figured they were using a devout Muslim boss as a way to criticize other Muslims, or the “bad” ones. With terrorism in the Middle East it’s unavoidable. There was a movie with Don Cheadle called “Traitor” that pulled this trick too.

     

    • #30
    • November 5, 2019, at 12:09 PM PST
    • 6 likes