Tag Archives: Jack Ryan

Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Jack Ryan, Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
First film review for a 2014 film!  Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a reboot of Tom Clancy’s most popular creation: CIA Agent (reluctantly) Jack Ryan.  This is the fifth film featuring Ryan and Chris Pine is the fourth actor to portray him.  Unlike other similar franchises, Ryan is a role that has yet to be defined by anyone indelibly.  Alec Baldwin played him first in The Hunt for Red October.  Harrison Ford took the role  for two films (Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger) and the last attempt at rebooting the character was in the midst of Ben Affleck’s blockbuster phase (The Sum of All Fears).  Shadow Recruit is not based on any Clancy novel.  I grew up on those novels and I love the series, but it is firmly rooted in the Cold War for a good portion of the run, so I think that original scripts are the way to go. Continue reading Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Harrison Ford’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

HarrisonFord

Latest vs. Greatest looks at directors, actors and actresses and assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the last 10 movies the artist has done, give them a grade and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 best movies and give those the same treatment to see how they have been doing compares to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is also a regular on a TV show we’ll grade the seasons as individuals and, clearly, artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Harrison Ford was, without question, the biggest star in the world in the 1980’s.  Ford owned the eighties.  It was the best run of work in his career and cemented not one but two of his characters into icon status reserved for few in the history of film.  Since, Ford has typically played the everyman character, whether this happened to be Jack Ryan, the President of the United States or a software designer.  It’s that quality that enabled him to rise from a career that began in carpentry to superstar  status.  He’s a movie star that doesn’t really seem like a movie star.

Han Solo, Harrison Ford, A New Hope, Star Wars, Chewbacca

Ford and George Lucas will always be inextricably linked (whether Ford likes it or not).  Ford’s breakout role was in Lucas’ American Graffiti, he had a small part in what many forget was orignally Lucas’ brainchild: Apocalypse Now and then he became an international legend with two of Lucas’ best characters: Han Solo and Indiana Jones.

Though Star Wars is consistently one of the topics on which I post the most articles, I’ve not yet discussed any of the films from the standpoint of critical review.  I could write several thousand words on any of them, so let’s simply for now say: Star Wars and Middle-earth are the two most dominant fictional universes and pop culture frameworks of my life.  He’s Han Solo, for crying out loud!  He’s an awesome scruffy-looking nerf herder who DID shoot first (bad George, bad).  He’s the grounding influence of the whole original trilogy.  He doesn’t care about the Force.  He just likes his ship, his big furry friend and the princess doesn’t suck either.

Indiana Jones, Harrison Ford, Raiders of the Lost Ark

Concurrent to the shaping of Han Solo into an international household name, was Ford’s embodiment of another character every bit as memorable and legendary (arguably more so since this one is the film’s main character): Indiana Jones.  How much different would the pop culture landscape be if Tom Selleck had taken Indiana Jones instead of Magnum P.I.?  When he couldn’t do it, Ford stepped in and the rest is history.  While there are certainly similarities between Han and Indy (the moment in Raiders when Indy shoots the scimitar wielding maniac is totally Han), Jones is very distinct.  How many kids went off to become archaeologists inspired by the thought of crashing through ruins wielding a whip only to become tenured class-bound alcoholics?  Random thought. 

The four Indiana Jones films vary wildly in quality compared to the three Star Wars films in which Ford participated.  I think Raiders and Last Crusade are pretty perfect and don’t care for Temple or Kingdom at all.  I may like the character of Indiana Jones though best among Ford’s roles.  In my opinion, Raiders of the Lost Ark is the greatest action-adventure film of all-time.  Discuss amongst yourselves.

Harrison Ford, Peter Weir, Witness

Here’s something you may not know: Harrison Ford has an Oscar nomination.  A well-deserved Oscar nomination, I might add.  Ford rarely stretches himself, which can be maddening as a fan of his.  Rather than seek to test his talent, he’ll often make X film where he plays Y irascible, grumpy dude with a heart of gold.  As he’s done with so many other actors, Peter Weir directed Ford to a landmark performance as a cop hiding from corrupt colleagues amongst the Pennsylvania Dutch in Witness.  This, I believe, is Ford’s best performance of his career and as many people I know who love him and his films, I can count on one hand  the ones who have also seen him in Witness.  This is one of the most underrated films of the eighties so watch how good Ford can be.  Then wait nearly thirty years before he stretches himself that far again.

Gary Oldman, Harrison Ford, Air Force One

When Star Wars and Indiana Jones were done, Ford transitioned into Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan.  He might hate to admit it, but Ford’s career has been waxed and waned with his proximity to franchises.  He’s one of the main reasons they dominate the box office today.  Patriot Games was a well-received first Ryan film, but Clear and Present Danger went nowhere critically or commercially and Ford lost interest in continuing with the character (who will be rebooted by Chris Pine on January 17th).

While the 1990’s were not a shadow of the 1980’s for Ford, he remained a top draw due primarily to his excellent work in two of the best action pictures of the decade: The Fugitive and Air Force One.  However, after 1997’s Air Force One, Ford walked in the desert for a long time before taking on anything of any quality again.  You could argue he chose poor roles, some might go so far as to say he’s lazy as an actor, but after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was largely panned by fans, Ford seemed done.  He’s in his early seventies now, after all.  Let’s look at his last ten films.

Harrison Ford, Working GirlFORD’S LATEST TEN:
1. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)………..8.00
2. Ender’s Game (2013)…………………………………………………….8.75
3. Paranoia (2013)………………………………………………………………4.00
4. 42 (2013)…………………………………………………………………………..8.75
5. Cowboys & Aliens (2011)……………………………………………..5.00
6. Morning Glory (2010)……………………………………………………6.50
7. Extraordinary Measures (2010)………………………………..7.00
8. Crossing Over (2009)…………………………………………………….6.00
9. Indiana Jones  4 (2008)………………………………………………….6.75
10. Firewall (2006) ……………………………………………………………..2.00
HARRISON FORD’S CURRENT AVERAGE: 6.275

Barely above-average is Ford’s current score, but in 2013, Ford made four movies and three of them were very good.  Ford rarely does comedy, but I’ve always liked seeing his sense of humor (heck, I liked him in Morning Glory), but he’s rarely done any comedy since Working Girl.  Ford played a ridiculously pompous anchorman in Anchorman 2, Ender Wiggins’ mentor in Ender’s Game, and Branch Rickey in 42.  Rickey, the GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers who brought Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball, is a legendary figure and Ford is so good as him that it’s a shame the movie came out in March.  If it had come out in the fall, he’d be getting Oscar consideration, which would be richly deserved.  Remember that stretching I told you we’d have to wait for after Witness?  42 is when Ford decided to really throw himself into a role for the first time in God knows how long and the result is fantastic.

Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Harrison Ford, Han Solo

FORD’S GREATEST TEN:
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)…10.00
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1982)………………………….10.00
Star Wars: A New Hope (1977)………………………..10.00
The Fugitive (1993)…………………………………………….. 10.00
Witness (1985)……………………………………………………… 9.75
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)…  9.75
Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (1983)……………..  9.75
Air Force One (1997)…………………………………………… 9.25
42 (2013)…………………………………………………………………..8.75
Working Girl (1988) …………………………………………….. 8.75
HARRISON FORD’S GREATEST AVERAGE: 9.60
NEW HIGH SCORE FOR ACTORS!

Ford has been acting for forty years now and his body of work, unsurprisingly, puts his career average higher than any other actor we’ve examined in this column to date.  To be honest, it could be a lot higher, but unlike the majority of reviewers, I can’t stand American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now or Blade Runner (which is another iconic Ford role that I discussed more in-depth when we looked at Ridley Scott)

So what’s next for Ford?  Now that he’s proven he can act again is he going to take on some great role of- no – let me stop you there and just tell you the only thing on Ford’s calendar in stone is The Expendables 3 in 2014.  However, the popular assumption is that the next time we’ll see him on-screen following that is in Star Wars Episode VII.  Ford has been pretty categorical in his lack of desire to ever play Han Solo again.  He lobbied hard for the character to be killed off in Return of the Jedi.  Lately, though, there seems to be a thaw in his stance.  We’ve not gotten any concrete details from JJ Abrams and team yet, but the popular assumption is that the original cast will come back in some capacity in Episode VII and that the Solo name may very well live on with the protagonist being Han and Leia’s daughter.  With the script due to be finalized this month, one hopes something will be thrown to the geek mobs soon.

Regardless of anything else he does, Ford is one of the biggest movie stars of the modern age.  He’s created iconic characters and embodied the everyman for an entire generation.  His place in Hollywood history is more than secure, but I doubt I’m alone in hoping we’ll get to go with him one more time to a galaxy far, far away.
Harrison Ford

Top 5: Tom Clancy Novels (R.I.P.)

Top 5

Recently author Tom Clancy passed away at the age of 66.  Clancy’s military fiction was a big part of my teenage years and I thought I would rate my personal top 5 Clancy novels and following those is a reprint of the obituary I published on the day of his passing.  
1. Without Remorse
Without Remorse, Tom Clancy

2. The Sum of All Fears
The Sum of All Fears, Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan

3. Debt of Honor/Executive Orders (really one huge 2200 page novel)
Debt of Honor, Tom Clancy, Jack ryanExecutive Orders, Tom Clancy, jack ryan

4.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Rainbow Six
Rainbow Six, Tom Clancy

5. Patriot Games
Patriot Games, Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy

OBITUARY

Author Tom Clancy has passed away at the age of 66, according to the New York Times.  Clancy died last night in a hospital in Baltimore.

Clancy was one of the definitive military/espionage writers of the late-Cold War to post-9/11 era.  His books were cutting edge in their vision of global politics and threat assessment.  In his book Debt of Honor, published in 1994, terrorists from Japan fly a hijacked airliner into the US Capitol during a joint session of Congress, killing most of the government.  At the time it seemed wildly fictional.  Seven years later, it proved eerily prophetic.

Clancy’s most enduring creation was the character of Jack Ryan, a history professor reluctantly pulled into a career with the CIA.  Ryan rises through the books until he’s Vice-President when the Debt of Honor plane crash elevates him to President of the United States.  Later books would also feature Ryan’s son, Jack Jr., following in his father’s footsteps in the current war on terror.

Most of Clancy’s novels feature Ryan in some capacity or another and four of Hollywood’s biggest actors have portrayed him onscreen.  Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October; Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear & Present Danger; Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears; and the series is rebooting with the self-titled Jack Ryan starring Chris Pine set to release this Christmas.

I devoured Clancy’s novels during high school.  I’ve never really had a fear of page count where books were concerned and you can probably credit Clancy for that as some of his could be used as effective blunt force weapons in hardback (I think Executive Orders is in the 1300 page range).  I read them because my grandfather read them and it gave us something to talk about, but I really ended up getting into them and a lot of what I know about military, intelligence, and geo-political worldview came from reading Clancy’s books.

He wasn’t Twain or Steinbeck, but he never pretended to be.  He wrote what he knew and meticulously researched.  He wrote compelling, intelligent, complex fiction.  His grasp of global and military trends was uncanny and there’s no one else writing the genre he dominated that’s even worth mentioning.  Literature is poorer for his departure.  I’ll paste the AP obit below.

In a career that spanned three decades, Clancy became one of the most successful figures in publishing. His name above a title was a calling card that conferred best-seller status on his espionage and military thrillers and inspired a dizzying array of tie-ins ranging from movies to video games. His books reveled in the technological details of spy-craft and weaponry, spending paragraphs recounting the various features of a nuclear submarine or a fighter plane,  for instance.

His most enduring creation may have been Jack Ryan, the patriotic and morally upright CIA analyst turned politician at the center of more than a dozen novels including “The Sum of All Fears” and “The Cardinal of the Kremlin.” The character was notable because his life and ascent mirrored the tectonic changes taking place in American foreign policy throughout Clancy’s writing career, as the country moved away from Cold War brinksmanship and turned its gaze to terrorist threats in the Middle East.

The character will appear once again in “Command Authority,” an upcoming novel scheduled for release on Dec. 3 that finds Ryan returning to the hot spot where it all started and grappling with a new threat in Russia.

The printed page could not hold Ryan. His literary exploits inspired four big-screen adventures, with Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck all portraying the intelligence expert in commercially successful films like “Clear and Present Danger” and “The Sum of All Fears.” “Jack Ryan: Shadow One,” a fifth Ryan film starring Chris Pine and directed by Kenneth Branagh, opens in theaters this December.

In addition to films, Clancy lent his name to a series of popular video games such as “Splinter Cell” from game maker UbiSoft. He was also a part-time owner of the Baltimore Orioles.

A political conservative and prominent supporter of the National Rifle Association, Clancy made headlines when he blamed liberal lawmakers for gutting the CIA and indirectly causing the attacks on September 11.

“The CIA was gutted by people on the political left who don’t like Intelligence operations … and as a result of that, as an indirect result of that, we lost 5,000 citizens,” the author told Bill O’Reilly during a FOX News appearance shortly after the attacks.

Trailer Time: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit International Trailer #1 (2013)

Paramount Pictures has released the first international trailer for trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Peter Andersson, Kenneth Branagh, David Paymer and Colm Feore.

Based on the Jack Ryan character created by the late Tom Clancy, the film is a contemporary action thriller set in the present day. The original story, written by David Koepp, follows a young Jack as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot.  Pine is such a fantastic actor, I think he could really embody this character as no one before has and play him for years to come.  The first domestic trailer looked like significant parts of Jack’s origin from the books are going to be changed.  I wonder if they’re going to go all original stories with the character or, after an origin, they’d start remaking or adapting Clancy’s novels.  Jack Ryan will open on Christmas Day.Jack Ryan, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Chris Pine, Tom Clancy

Trailer Time: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2013)


Paramount Pictures has released the trailer for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Peter Andersson, Kenneth Branagh, David Paymer and Colm Feore.

Based on the Jack Ryan character created by bestselling author Tom Clancy,who passed away this week, the film is a contemporary action thriller set in the present day. The original story, written by David Koepp, follows a young Jack as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot.  Pine is such a fantastic actor, I think he could really embody this character as no one before has and play him for years to come.  Jack Ryan will open on Christmas Day.Jack Ryan, Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, Chris Pine, Tom Clancy