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Soundtrack review: Jack Ryan (season 1) (Ramin Djawadi – 2018)

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Soundtrack review: Jack Ryan (season 1) (Ramin Djawadi – 2018)

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“Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”, or simply “Jack Ryan”, is an American action political thriller web television series, based on characters from the fictional “Ryanverse” created by Tom Clancy, which premiered on August 31, 2018 on Amazon Video. The series was created by Carlton Cuse and Graham Roland. Cuse serves as an executive producer alongside John Krasinski, Michael Bay and Mace Neufeld, among others. Krasinski also stars in the series as the titular character, making him the fifth actor to portray the character after Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine from the film series. Jack Ryan follows the titular CIA analyst as he is wrenched from the security of his desk job into the field after discovering a string of dubious bank transfers. His search for answers leads him across Europe and the Middle East as he uncovers a growing terrorist threat bent on carrying out an attack on the United States. Ramin Djawadi wrote the score.

I have watched Jack Ryan movies for almost 30 years now and of course my favourites are the Harrison Ford ones, “Patriot games” and “Clear and present danger”. The spy gene is very much alive and I am always up for a good political thriller. For Ramin Djawadi, after years spent mostly in more fantastic realms, it’s time to get back to maybe (I hope) his “Person of interest” sound. The main titles which I will get very familiar with are electronic suspenseful. Lately this composer has explored the emotional side of his music and even if “Jack Ryan” asks for a colder, thriller like approach there’s still a melodic warmth in a lot of the cues.

As the score progresses I get the feeling that this is a case of the music completely mirroring the pace and setting of the TV show; I hear it in the robust and positive action motifs, light and supportive, with electronic passages that dose down any possible warmth, a warmth that Ramin Djawadi lets develop in cues like “The price of freedom” where a quiet and almost elegiac Oriental motif showcases this composer’s huge potential and talent for writing memorable, emotional melodies. The entire Arabian arc in the score sounds just great even outside the context of the show. Of course Ramin is no stranger to Eastern instruments as he uses them on his “Game of thrones” scores as well. ANother “GoT” nod is “By the grace of Greer” where you will recognise the music of the North.

There are a few surprises in the music as well, like the melancholic, heroic trumpet in “Greer’s gears”, the trumpet that always makes me think of the mix of politics in military in American movies. There is a cue that makes me wonder if Michael Giacchino was present at the final editing of the album as it’s titled “Morgue that you bargained for”. Every time I am ready to make a comment about the music going into the generic thriller zone the score suddenly beefs up with another emotional dimension like in “Heart of Hanin” and reminds me that Ramin cannot write generic music. Yes there are some filler moments but the poignant ones more than make up for them.

With all that “Jack Ryan” is an uneven score; there are peaks and there are more forgettable moments but I would say the balance comes up positive because of how good the melodic moments are. The thing is, it’s much better in the context of the TV show, I’m not sure the selection of cues was the best, after having watched the show. I recommend this one because of the pleasant surprises it hides and I can’t wait to experience it in the context of the show as well.

Cue rating: 75 / 100

Highlights:
The Price of Freedom
Greer’s Gears
By the Grace of Greer
Plight of the Refugees

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Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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