Aug 24, 2012

Tradecraft: Jack Ryan Reboot Finally Getting Underway

It's taken a decade, but things are finally coming together on the new Jack Ryan movie. Deadline reports that the Chris Pine-led reboot will hit theaters in the fourth quarter of 2013. I was afraid we might not have a big spy tentpole next year with no installments scheduled for Bond, Bourne or Mission: Impossible, but now we've got the return of the biggest spy franchise of the 90s to look forward to! For now, Deadline is calling the reboot Jack Ryan. I hope that's just a placeholder, and not the actual title. (I am so glad that the first Bond movie did not end up being called James Bond of the Secret Service!) People's names alone do not make good titles. What it definitely won't be called, however, is The Cardinal of the Kremlin or Red Rabbit or any of the yet unfilmed Tom Clancy titles. This movie has always been planned as an original story detailing the Clancy hero's earliest days, prior to and including his recruitment into the CIA. It's based on background provided by the author in his novels, but other than that it's a fresh story designed to establish a young Jack Ryan in the recognizably modern world. Personally, I've got no problem with that. The Bond films started forging original stories long before they ever ran out of Fleming titles, and for the most part, the strategy worked. And Clancy's latest output has hardly been up to the standards of his terrific early novels. I'd still love to see some of the other novels adapted (particularly The Cardinal of the Kremlin, though that's rooted pretty firmly in the Cold War--but could be updated to work in modern Russia), but an original story is probably the best way to re-establish the franchise for a generation who, sadly, probably hasn't even seen The Hunt for Red October.

While a number of writers and directors have come and gone since Pine first became attached to the role (following previous rumors about Ryan Gosling, Sam Raimi and Fernando Meirelles), the trade blog reports that the film is now moving forward under the direction of Kenneth Brannagh working from a script by David Koepp and Adam Cozad. (There may well be other names on it once Guild arbitration is completed considering how many have worked on it over the years.) In addition to helming, Brannagh will play the film's Russian villain, who aims to destroy the American economy. Keira Knightley will play Cathy Muller (the future Mrs. Jack Ryan, portrayed by Anne Archer in the Harrison Ford movies), and, as reported earlier this week, Kevin Costner will play the spy boss who recruits Ryan into the CIA and mentors him. (This is an original character, not one from the novels.) I like that cast. The Costner character will carry over into Paramount's next Clancy film, a modernized adaptation of Without Remorse detailing the origin of "Jack Ryan's dark side" Mr. Clark. Besides that parallel franchise, the studio envisions this Jack Ryan movie as the first of a trilogy. Don't ask me why everything has to be a trilogy now; I would prefer a "series." But whatever; the plan is for more Jack Ryan movies to follow this one more quickly than the decade-plus gap that followed The Sum of All Fears. Clancy himself has been surprisingly quiet on all this, after expressing outrage over most previous film adaptations of his work. (He was never a fan of Ford or Baldwin, but said he liked Affleck.) Perhaps he just doesn't care anymore. Or maybe, like this fan, he's happy to see his creation live on.

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