So you take a pinch of Jason Bourne, you add the brash physical side of the Abrams Captain Kirk, and you set it against Kenneth Branagh directing himself as the bad guy so there is no one there to stop him from going over the top, and the result is Paramount’s last best hope at rebooting the Jack Ryan franchise.
My favorite thing about this trailer is Kevin Costner front and center as the guy who brings Jack Ryan into the world of international espionage, and it seems like the biggest difference between the script I read and the final version of the film. It’s a smart move, too, because Costner carries an authority that you need for this kind of movie. I really like Chris Pine, but I still think it’s a gamble to basically hang every functioning Paramount franchise on the same actor. Just because I like the way he plays Captain Kirk, that doesn’t automatically mean he’s right for everything else.
It’s apparent they have done a major revamp of the character as he was originally imagined. In “Hunt For Red October,” Ryan is an analyst, a guy who doesn’t do any field work, and a big chunk of that movie is about how uncomfortable he is with a gun and with the physical side of things. In this film, it’s obvious that they want him to be more along the lines of a Jason Bourne, a badass with his bare hands who is also the smartest guy in the room. In other words, they’ve re-imagined him as more of a superhero.
That’s a disappointment, frankly. I would love to know what Clancy thought of this version of the character. I can see exactly why the studio wanted to go this way, but I also think it’s a letdown. There are plenty of movie heroes who can beat the hell out of the bad guys, but far fewer who are driven more by their wits, and part of what Clancy’s stories always emphasized was the way each of his characters played a part in something, but without the need for a superhero. Ryan was an everyman… a very smart everyman, but still.
I’ll be curious to see how this comes together in the end. I know I had some major reservations about the choices they were making on “Jack Reacher” last year, and I ended up enjoying that film tremendously. I hope this is the same sort of thing.
We’ll find out when “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” opens on December 25, 2013.