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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jack’s Back

Written by Jon Williams

On January 17, the movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit will hit theatres across North America. It features the title character as a young U.S. intelligence officer for the CIA as he uncovers a terrorist plot and must investigate to find evidence to support his claims. The film features such notable names as Kevin Costner as Ryan’s CIA role model, Keira Knightley as Ryan’s wife, and Kenneth Branagh (who also directs the film) as the villain.

Actor Chris Pine has already taken the reins of one iconic role, taking over for William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, as well as its 2013 sequel. Now he does it again, becoming the fourth actor to bring Jack Ryan to the big screen. With this being a story of Ryan’s early days as an operative, a younger actor was needed, and Pine eagerly stepped into the shoes of the actors who came before him.

The first actor to bring Jack Ryan to life, of course, was Alec Baldwin in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October, in which he helps the captain of a Soviet nuclear submarine to defect to the United States with his ship. At that point, Baldwin was known primarily for his role as a confused, recently deceased ghost in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He has since gone on to have quite a distinguished acting career, appearing recently in the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine, and starring for seven seasons as Tina Fey’s blowhard boss in 30 Rock.

Baldwin played Ryan in just that film. For 1992’s Patriot Games, the role went to Harrison Ford, which continued with the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger. Ford will always and forever be best known as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy, a role he is rumoured to be reprising, as well as Indiana Jones, but he has had a long and varied career that includes American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, The Fugitive, and, more recently, the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 (just to name a very few).

After 1994, the character was put on the shelf for a few years. Then in 2002 came a movie exploring some of Jack Ryan’s younger days: The Sum of All Fears, featuring Ben Affleck in the title role. After starring in the cult hit Dazed and Confused and the Kevin Smith comedies Mallrats and Chasing Amy, Affleck jumped into the spotlight with 1997’s Good Will Hunting. He has since become one of the biggest movie stars in the world, poised to take over the role of Batman, as well as an acclaimed director.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the first film in the series since 2002. It departs from its predecessors in that it’s the first of the films not to be based directly on a novel. The character was created by late author Tom Clancy (who passed away in October of last year) in the 1984 novel The Hunt for Red October, which was adapted for the 1990 film. Ryan went on to feature in a number of Clancy’s novels, climbing through the ranks of the CIA and eventually becoming President of the United States, with his son, Jack Ryan, Jr. taking his father’s place as an operative.

With the new film’s release just days away, make sure you have the Clancy audiobooks and previous films on your shelves for patrons who will want to catch up on Ryan’s exciting exploits.

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