Jack Ryan was not born to be an action hero, even if he had a healthy respect for them. Ryan first appeared in The Hunt for Red October, published in 1984 by the U.S. Naval Institute Press (because nobody else thought readers would be interested in that kind of technical minutiae), for which Tom Clancy was reportedly paid $5,000. In the midst of the Clinton era, the settings of the novels shifted from actual history to America's imagined future. Ryan became the Commander-in-Chief with whom conservative readers desperately wanted to replace the one they had in real life.
But even then, our hero gave executive orders, rather than carrying them out himself. A decade and a half before 9/11, Ryan morphed from analyst to hawkish political sugar daddy, giving those who fought America's enemies a mandate and the necessary funding to unleash righteous anger. Clancy loved his supersoldiers, to be sure, but Ryan was never—until today—one of them.
Hollywood, mostly, which has little room for heroes or stories that are much different from the ones we got a week before. Jack Ryan isn't such a beloved character that reimagining him would feel sacrilegious. And the character we get in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is not the complete antithesis of his literary namesake.
It's just that "reimagining" feels and sounds like too generous a word for a movie this generic. David Koepp, who wrote this film along with Adam Cozad, also wrote for Mission: Impossible, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Panic Room, Spider-Man, War of the Worlds, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdomof theCrystal Skull.
Those are some wildly successful and well-plotted movies, but they aren't exactly character ...1
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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
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