Okay, this is potentially, a big deal. The first image of Chris Pine as Jack Ryan. Mind you, I’m taking Comingsoon.net’s word for it, but I believe it, because Coming Soon is a very reputable website that I respect.
Why did it take Paramount so long to find the right Jack Ryan? Let me break it all down for you.
Jack Ryan is supposed to be America’s James Bond. He’s not elegant like Bond, he’s more of a blue collar, middle america, CIA agent who gets the job done with pure instinct, grit and heart. He doesn’t have the fancy gadgets like Bond, and John Patrick “Jack” Ryan, Sr. wouldn’t feel comfortable with them in his hands if he did. Just give the man his 9mm.
The problem, Hollywood and Paramount haven’t been able to find a Jack Ryan that sticks around longer than one or two films. Say what you will about the Bond franchise, they find a man and stick with him for as long as he’s dashing. Paramount hasn’t been able to do this with Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Here is why:
First they had Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October and it was a hit, but Baldwin is notoriously difficult and he got so sick of Hollywood in 1990 because of this film, that he decided he didn’t want to be the face of the franchise. He was offered a lot of money to come back, but has stated many times, that he was disillusioned with the whole A-Lister action star role. He didn’t want to be pigeon holed. He liked doing shows like SNL. Okay…. Try to remember 1990 was a different time.
Then, Paramount finds some solid footing with Harrison Ford who played Jack Ryan best and looked the character in the books actual age. Jack Ryan was born in 1950, Ford was born in ’42, but has always looked ten years younger than he actually is.
Patriot Games is mildly successful grossing $178 million dollars world-wide. I say mildly, because just 2 years before that, The Hunt For Red October grossed over $200 million and won an academy Award for Best Sound Editing. The film is also considered ground breaking stuff from John McTeirnan, particularly, the zoom in on Sean Connery’s mouth while he’s speaking Russian with subtitles and then slowly zooming out, as the language switches to English with a Russian accent. This technique was featured at my film school and many other film schools as well. Okay, moving on.
The Next Jack Ryan film set the bar even higher, and this time, Clear and Present Danger met expectations. The film was a huge hit and grossed $215 million dollars world wide in 1994. The problem? Paramount took to long to develop a script that Harrison Ford would accept and by the time they did, Ford was in Action film Semi Retirement for a while, and finally he was deemed too old by the new executives at Paramount — who would come to regret this after the success of Air Force One. So, the film never became a trilogy with Ford, as most expected it would.
Next up, Ben Affleck. The problem? By the time Paramount had the sequel prepared, Ben Affleck’s acting career was spiraling out off control and into the side of a mountain. Three of his next four films were Gigli, Daredevil, and Paycheck. Affleck won the Golden Raspberry worst actor award for ALL three of them. His career was on the bring of total disaster and if Affleck wasn’t a writer first (Good Will Hunting) and a director third, his Box Office career would have been over by now. But give him credit, he has risen above the ashes and is respected again.
This resurgent Ben Affleck is only a couple years old though, and it took 7 years to construct. Back in 2004, Paramount wasn’t going to sink a $100 million dollars into a film with the name Ben Affleck on the poster. So, Paramount was forced to shelve Jack Ryan again! Until now.
Paramount now thinks they have a long term, multi-picture solution for Jack Ryan. They have Chris Pine, an up and comer who has yet to peek, is only 32, and will have at least one more mega hit under his belt in Star Trek 2, that should propel the momentum for a “Young” Jack Ryan Prequel with him as the star.
Paramount also has a fine director in Kenneth Branagh who is reportedly ready to make multiple films. Add to that Keira Knightley’s return to the big budget film arena and Kevin Costner’s return as well, and Paramount, thinks, thinks, they have a new beginning. I think they’re right.
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