By Margaretta wa Gacheru (8 October 2018)
The genre of the action political thriller may not be everybody’s ‘cup of tea’. But if you have even a slight taste for spy tales, then there are several series that have come out recently that I’d recommend.
There’s ‘Berlin Station’, ‘Jack Ryan’ and ‘Condor’ all of which are gripping political thrillers filled with suspense and intrigue.
The latest one to come out is ‘Condon’. But I also like Tom Clancy’s ‘Jack Ryan’ and the two series have much in common. In fact, both are about an Analyst working at the CIA. Both Jack Ryan (John Krasinski) and Joseph Turner (Max Irons) in Condor are comfortable working at desk jobs, analyzing numbers and looking for patterns that might indicate some sinister sort of ‘enemy activity.’
In the case of both Clancy and Condor’s original novelist, James Grady who wrote ‘Six Days of the Condor’ (which was the basis for the 1975 film ‘Three Days of the Condor’), the original enemies were the Communists. But in 2018, the enemies are more mysterious, less easily identified which is why analysts like Jack and Joe play such pivotal roles.
Both characters operate out of clandestine offices in Washington, DC. Both identify anomalous patterns that raise red flags. And both had ‘followed the money’ to some mysterious point that is bound to lead to the ‘yet to be identified’ enemy that the series is going to expose.
In Jack’s case, he sees the implications of his discovery before his bosses do. So he has to struggle to get them to take him seriously. Some film critics found Jack’s impassioned pushiness preposterous. But I think they didn’t have the patience to find out the underlying motive for why Jack feels so strongly about stopping foreign terrorists. By the time his superiors listen to him, hundreds of people have already died from breathing chemical toxins.
Jack figures out who the terrorists are but doesn’t know where they plan to target next or why? The series is seriously suspenseful as Jack’s identity as well as his motives come out gradually, adding increasing tension as the series unfolds.
This Jack isn’t a ‘Jack Bauer’ of the inimitable ‘24’ series with Kiefer Sutherland. But John Krasinski’s Jack is equally hard core and surprisingly fit to battle an enemy he follows through Europe and the Middle East.
One good thing about this series is that while the ‘terrorists’ are Middle Eastern, they are not simply cardboard stereotypical bad guys. Instead, their leader Mousa Bin Suleiman (Ali Suliman) is a father who loves his family but terrifies his wife (Dina Shihabi) once she realizes he is up to no good. She flees with two of their three kids and her journey becomes part of Jack’s race to find her husband before he manages to use his chemical weapon to destroy even larger urban populations.
Jack has a reason for what seems like an obsession, but in typically American ‘Rambo’ style, he’s ‘the one guy’ capable of saving the world.