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.