What Jack Ryan Gets Right About the War on Terror

Pop Culture

What Jack Ryan Gets Right About the War on Terror

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


or a show centred around a protagonist who embodies faultless American heroism, it’s surprising that Jack Ryan opens with the camera focused on its compelling antagonist: the Lebanon-born Syrian, Mousa bin Suleiman. In a flashback moment, we see Suleiman and his younger brother standing in front of their house as the neighbourhood is bombed, leaving the two siblings as the only survivors. It’s a brief scene, but it bubbles with the kind of childish innocence that makes the tragedy following it, all the more gutting. The two siblings don’t just lose a mother, but are also guaranteed a future stained by blood and war.

Perhaps, it then makes sense that the sixth live-action adaptation of Tom Clancy’s wildly popular book series, Jack Ryan, places this personal tragedy at the core of its public war on terror. It attempts to answer the muddled question: What makes a person a terrorist? It’s also what sets apart this post-modern update from its predecessors.