DirectorVarious, created by Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland (based on the novels by Tom Clancy)
Release Date(s)2019 (November 29, 2022)
Studio(s)Amazon Studios/Platinum Dunes/Skydance/Paramount Television (Paramount Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: C-
With the success of Jack Ryan’s first season on Amazon Prime, executive producers Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Graham Roland (Almost Human) chose to shift gears from the previous year’s focus on international terrorism to a storyline about political corruption and covert superpower ambitions closer to home in the Western Hemisphere.
When a sub-launched missile inserts a mysterious satellite into a geosynchronous orbit over Venezuela, and a cargo ship tied to Russia delivers unknown cargo to the Venezuelan military, Jack Ryan (John Krasinski)—on loan from the CIA to advise U.S. Senator Jim Moreno (Benito Martinez), who’s Jack’s former Marine Corps. commander—begins to suspect that the Russians may be moving nukes into the region. But when Ryan and Moreno travel to Venezuela to investigate, and Moreno is then assassinated, Ryan suddenly finds himself neck deep in a strategic, economic, and political crisis instigated by the country’s corrupt president, Nicolás Reyes (Jordi Mollà).
Fortunately, Ryan’s old boss at the CIA, James Greer (Wendell Pierce), is on hand to help, having followed the trail of clues from Moscow. A former German intelligence agent (Noomi Rapace) appears as well, after tracking a former colleague who might be involved to the region. And Ryan and Greer soon recruit additional support from local CIA station chief Mike November (Michael Kelly), Reyes’ opponent in the upcoming presidential election (Cristina Umaña), and their old friend Matice (John Hoogenakker). Together, they begin to uncover a complicated plot that’s not quite what any of them expected, but that could prove every bit as dangerous to global stability.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Season Two of Jack Ryan is the way it draws upon the tone of the early Tom Clancy novels—particularly Clear and Present Danger—while updating its themes for the 21st Century. The story here is certainly more complicated than it was in Season One (see our review of the 4K Ultra HD release here), with more moving pieces and many more participants, but it does comes together well and still features some of the globe-trotting touches you expect from the franchise. Season Two also offers a number of terrific performances, not just by Krasinski, Pierce, Hoogenakker, and Rapace, but also Kelly—who becomes a new series regular here—as well as Umaña, Mollà, and particularly Francisco Denis as a childhood friend and advisor of Reyes who’s grown concern about lines his president is willing to cross. There’s also a compelling subplot involving Matice’s “black ops” team as it tracks the Russian cargo deep into the Venezuelan jungle.
Jack Ryan was captured digitally in ProRes 4444 XQ (3.2K) format, using Arri Alexa Mini cameras, and is finished as a native 4K Digital Intermediate. Strangely, the aspect ratio for this season was changed from Season One’s 1.78:1 to a more cinematic 2.00:1, which is how it appears on disc here, complete with grading for high dynamic range. Its release on Ultra HD presents that source with HDR10 only (though its streaming presentation on Amazon Prime has recently added Dolby Vision). Nevertheless, the UHD image on disc is terrific, with clean and abundant detail, refined texturing, vibrant, nuanced color, and lovely depth. Contrast is quite good, with strong shadows and naturally bold highlights. The episodes have been encoded on a pair of BD-100 discs to allow for maximum video bitrates. This is essentially a reference-grade 4K image, noticeably better than the streamed 4K on Prime, and an improvement over the Blu-ray release too.
Audio on these 4K discs represents a slight compromise. Whereas the Blu-ray included Dolby Atmos, the new 4K discs feature lossless DTS-HD Master Audio mixes. But while some fans will be tempted to complain about the switch, I’m not one of them. Its worth noting that Atmos files are somewhat larger than equivalent DTS-HD MA files, so it’s likely that in order to squeeze four episodes onto each BD-100 disc with high image quality, the format swap had to be made. But I’ve spent a bit of time comparing the two, and what you lose going from Atmos to DTS-HD MA is negligible compared to what you gain in image quality. The mixes are both immersive and atmospheric, with a full, rich sound, firm low end, pleasing dynamics, and excellent clarity. Surround use and movement are more lively than you might be expecting and when the action starts, it’s relentless. It’s a fair trade, in my opinion. Note that English Audio Description is also available, as are optional subtitles in English and English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. (The previous Blu-ray’s foreign language tracks and subtitles are not included, which again suggests decisions made for disc space reasons.)
Paramount’s 4K release is a 2-disc set, containing the episodes in 4K on UHD only—there are no Blu-rays here, nor is there a Digital code, or much in the way of special features. However, the set does include deleted scenes as follows:
- Cargo – Deleted Scene (HD – :32)
- Dressed to Kill – Deleted Scene (HD – 1:15)
- Dressed to Kill – Deleted Scene (HD – :39)
- Persona Non Grata – Deleted Scene (HD – :22)
- Dios Y Federación – Deleted Scene (HD – 1:19)
- Dios Y Federación – Deleted Scene (HD – 2:54)
- Dios Y Federación – Deleted Scene (HD – 2:45)
- Strongman – Deleted Scene (HD – :43)
- Strongman – Deleted Scene (HD – 2:22)
- Strongman – Deleted Scene (HD – 1:38)
- Strongman – Deleted Scene (HD – 1:53)
As was the case with Season One, there are no audio commentaries, no featurettes, not even the handful of behind-the-scenes EPKs you can find on YouTube. You do at least get more deleted scenes this time. And while the lack of extras is disappointing, you’re here for the series itself and that you get in high quality indeed.
It should be noted that Jack Ryan: Season Two (like Season One) is an MOD 4K release, featuring properly-manufactured discs produced in small batches as demand requires. So if it goes out of stock occasionally… or you’re taken aback by the somewhat higher SRP… now you know why.
While Season Two of Jack Ryan isn’t quite as thrilling as the series’ debut, if you keep an open mind, I think you’ll find that it’s better than many have given it credit for. It’s certainly in keeping with the tone of the original Clancy novels. And these episodes do provide the perfect set-up for Season Three, which features the series’ best storyline to date. (Look for that to arrive on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD as well, sometime later in 2023.) In the meantime, with A/V quality in spades, this UHD release is certainly recommend for fans.
[Editor’s Note: If you’re interested in seeing the previous feature films featuring this character, try checking them out in Paramount’s Jack Ryan: 5-Film Collection on 4K Ultra HD—reviewed here at The Bits.]
- Bill Hunt