Oct 3, 2013

Trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Well, how do you like that? This makes three Tom Clancy-related posts in a row. (Granted, one of them was relating very sad news.) After sitting tight on it all summer, Paramount has finally begun the publicity push for its Jack Ryan reboot, which the studio hopes will re-launch the iconic Nineties spy franchise for the modern age. Yesterday we saw the poster, and today we have the trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

Well, that was... hm. What was that? It's really hard for me to separate the action from the character, but I get the feeling that if it were a trailer for a new Chris Pine spy movie with no baggage, I'd be really into it. But a Jack Ryan movie? It doesn't really feel like that to me. There's a lot I find appealing in this trailer, but it doesn't have any of the stuff I really associate with that franchise. No techies staring at satellite imagery, no fetishistic beauty shots of military hardware, no political shouting matches. Instead, it looks like someone yelled, "Make a movie with Jack Ryan in Casino Royale. With lots of Bourne stuff, too!" Now, anyone who regularly reads this blog will know that I love Casino Royale, and I love Bourne stuff. So in general I'd have no problem with that. But... it's really not Jack Ryan. Mr. Clark was Jack Ryan's "dark side" in the Clancy novels, and he was the one who took care of this sort of thing. Ryan himself was more cerebral. He was an analyst and a strategist, and that made it more interesting when he did find himself in risky situations. Last year we heard that Paramount planned to develop simultaneous Clark and Ryan franchises, and have Kevin Costner's character as a Nick Fury-like link between the two leading up to them eventually meeting and teaming up, following the Marvel model. But based on this Ryan trailer, I can't imagine that the Clark movie would be different enough to register as its own animal.

But, of course, this is a reboot, and specifically a cinematic reboot. The Bourne of the movies bears very little resemblance to the Bourne of the books, yet the movies became huge hits, so why should Paramount feel anymore beholden to the literary source material than Universal did? I guess the key to enjoying this movie will be to go into it expecting a whole new thing, and to leave all Jack Ryan preconceptions at the door. (Obviously this doesn't work as a prequel to The Hunt for Red October, since that Jack Ryan certainly hadn't been forced to "go operational" years prior!) I didn't like Doug Liman's The Bourne Identity the first time I saw it because I brought too much baggage from my love of the books. While I'd still like to see the book Bourne filmed faithfully one day, I've since learned to enjoy the Matt Damon movies (and enjoy them quite a lot!) for what they are. I will try to bear the same thing in mind when seeing Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. (Plus, it is pretty cool to see Kevin Costner as some sort of Smiley-type!) As of now, it's scheduled to open Christmas Day.

PS: Also, it's kind of funny that Casino Royale reset not only James Bond but the spy genre at large so thoroughly that whereas after Dr. No the quintessential spy imagery was a sophisticated agent in a suit arriving at an exotic international airport (that's the scene that every imitator took, not the 007's iconic casino introduction), now apparently the quintessential spy imagery is a gritty fight in a men's room.


teeritz said...

Interesting trailer, but Jack Ryan is coming across as a little too Bourne Again (sorry, reading it back, yeah, I don't think it's funny either).
And it would appear that a Men's Room is a very dangerous place for a field operative these days.
I do hope there's enough in it to be called a Jack Ryan movie. Like you say, it doesn't look like Ryan is doing much analyst stuff in this one. I hope this isn't like "A Good Day To Die Hard", where it felt more like a Bruce Willis action movie rather than a John McLaine adventure.
Either way, I'll be shelling out $19.00 (movie-going IS expensive in Australia) to go see it.

Quiller said...

A few points about the trailer for “Casino Ryanale” :

1) I think it’s a stretch to call what Ryan appears to be doing in this trailer “Black Ops.” Seems more like he’s infiltrating the enemy camp in order to gather information – basic, traditional espionage, and not really the sort of paramilitary stuff that Mr. Clark specializes in. In a very real sense that is the essential core of the Ryan character – not that he’s a desk-bound analyst, but that he’s a desk-bound analyst [i]who keeps getting shanghaied into these hair-raising field exercises[/i] – spiriting the Red October and its crew to the West, going into Russia itself to rescue the agent CARDINAL and forcing the KGB Chairman to defect, putting together a rag-tag crew to rescue the soldiers abandoned in Colombia. Plus everything in [i]Patriot Games[/i] (which I confess is my least favorite Ryan novel and movie).

2) Point 1) notwithstanding, there’s no getting around that that fight scene does conjure up memories of the pre-title sequence of [i]Casino Royale[/i], even to the point of the bad guy’s head ending up in a sink. But the key to understanding what’s going on here is in how Ryan reacts to the fight. In [i]Casino Royale[/i], the brutal fight with Mr. Fisher in the washroom is shown as a stark contrast to Bond’s cleaner, cooler, emotionless takeout of Dryden. In [i]JR:SR[/i], Jack’s first move once the fight is over is to call his handler in something of a panic. Again, I find this all of a piece with how Ryan traditionally responded emotionally to violent encounters in the novel.

Snark aside, I did like this trailer (although I am rather proud of that “Casino Ryanale” crack). Maybe I’m just so stoked to see Jack Ryan on the big screen again but I think the trailer suggests a film that will draw a balance between the cerebral and physical aspects of the character. I’m as crazy about the title as the rest of you (which is to say, not at all) – they probably should have just left it at [i]Jack Ryan.[/i] The next Bond, Bourne/Cross and Smiley adventures are a long way off, and [i]Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.[/i] just isn’t cutting the mustard (at least not yet), so I think this will do quite nicely until then.

Bob said...

It is interesting to see the producers start the trailer with the Casino Royale scene. Certainly it is a credit to that film.

Tanner, I agree with you on the baggage feeling. With the new Bond novel by William Boyd and it's two previous successors, I always begin these books with a certain expectation of what Bond is all about and with the past two books, I always return to Fleming.