Jack Ryan, does he need a reboot?
We've heard that Jack Ryan was getting a reboot, moving on again, looking for a new actor and a new franchise to kick him off, something that isn't really that much of a surprise as we've seen it happen a number of times before.
However reboot doesn't just mean the actor, it means the story, the character, and with the dropping of Tom Clancy from the franchise, the man who created the character and wrote so many of the stories, this is really going to be a reboot like we've not seen so far.
At least you could say that Sum of All Fears, the film that starred Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan, was still a Tom Clancy story. The next story, the current film being worked on, will not even be that.
News has arrived from The Hollywood Reporter that Anthony Peckham has been signed up to write the new story for the new Jack Ryan character. Peckham's last two scripts were Invictus (Filmstalker review) and Sherlock Holmes, two strong stories and when combined you could see the possibility for a Ryan story.
One takes a true story and turns it into a dramatic tale, focussing on pulling the tension and suspense out of the reality of a situation and staying close to historical facts, bringing real life figures to the big screen through actors, while the other sees a well known character created by and so well known through another writer, brought so successfully to the big screen once again.
Surely you can see the two attractive qualities there. A Jack Ryan film has to be about real life situations, and behind it there has to be a strong basis in reality, something that perhaps the The Sum of All Fears film stretched a little too far. The writer also has to be able to take a well created character over a string of novels and films, and give them new life and a new direction, without standing on the already well trodden paths of the character and the stories, and Ryan has been under the guidance of Tom Clancy for so long and been fleshed out so much, there's a lot that can't be turned away from.
There's a lot there that Peckham has already proven with just his last two scripts, and I think it sounds a really good match, but the question remains, does he really need a reboot?
You can't argue too well against the fact that the Jack Ryan that Ben Affleck played needed to be forgotten and moved on from, and that can't be laid at the feet of Affleck, the film itself had a number of problems and the story for his character didn't feel anything like the Ryan we saw with Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford.
However did the franchise need to loose the man who created it and continued to create stories for Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy? Now we're going to see a new writer at the helm and the possibility of an entirely new franchise. The positives aside lets think of negatives, and look to Sherlock Holmes as an example, that character was rebooted as an action adventure character, and one that actually worked and was well received.
Is that what we're going to see here with the new Jack Ryan? I already think so. Looking at the man lined up to play him, Chris Pine, he's certainly the mould of the all action adventure star that such a film would lead with, and that's a strong indicator of where the new Jack Ryan is going to go.
Yet I can't help but hark back to the first outing for the character in The Hunt for Red October and look at how great Alec Baldwin played that role, and wonder why Harrison Ford was called in to replace him, for me he was the best embodiment of the Ryan character and not just because he was the first to play him. He just felt right.
After Baldwin's outing the character leapt forward and Harrison Ford took over for an older and slightly more wiser Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and there's no doubt that for most people he is Jack Ryan. For me he did a great job and did take over from Baldwin well, and I'd have been happy for him to continue playing the character, but he didn't age at the same rate as Ford.
So we did need a new actor, and we'd seen it could have been done, but as Affleck saw this was a slightly different dilemma. It was a lot easier to leap forward in time and present an older, more mature Ryan than to leap back, and confuse the time line somewhat.
What we're going to see with the new film is a change of everything. Ryan returns to his origins, as a Wall Street analyst, nothing to do with the current incarnation, although we believe that the story will bring him forward to the beginnings of the Ryan we know, no novel on which to base the character, new story, and a new actor.
It seems strange to me that Tom Clancy wasn't turned to for the source, but then it does give the freedom to the screenwriter and the studio to do whatever they wanted with the character and his world, and even give us the action adventure turnaround that Sherlock Holmes had to Jack Ryan.
The real question is, what does the audience want for Jack Ryan?