6 Things the new Jack Ryan lost from the old Jack Ryan

Harrison Ford and Chris Pine as Jack Ryan
Outsmarted, out-directed and, more importantly, out-chinned.

'Loyalty, cleanliness and knot tying'


Described by Ritter (Henry Czerny) in Clear And Present Danger as a 'boy scout' with the above attributes, Ryan in the two Ford films represents America as America wants to be, whilst the film recognises that the actual situation is not really that rosy. That film is an extremely interesting liberal diatribe against US intelligence policy, which casts US bad guys on at least equal terms to the supposed threat in the film: the Colombian drug cartels. Shadow Recruit meanwhile has little to say about the US politically, at a time when there couldn't be more to comment on. Instead, the bad guy is Russian, the power behind him is Russian and the end vehicle to destruction is Russian. Even if we were still in the Cold War, that period has already given us The Hunt For Red October.

Anne Archer and/or a good Cathy Ryan


Cathy in Shadow Recruit (Keira Knightley) is a terrible character, who at one point shows up in Ryan's life for no earthly plot reason before the film reveals why she's there: yet again, she's a female character who exists to be kidnapped. Patriot Games and Clear And Present Danger might exist further into the Ryan's relationship than Shadow Recruit but just because the latest film focuses on the start of their union doesn't mean Cathy has to go back to being stupid. There is little doubt in the two Ford films that Cathy - there played brilliantly by Anne Archer - is the power at home (at one point she is referred to as 'making more money than the president') and, though she is targeted at one point during Patriot Games, she generally fulfils a much stronger and more significant supporting role. At one point during Clear And Present Danger our hero, the square-jawed Ford, reaches out for Cathy's hand, almost in tears.

Action by accident


Jack Ryan is not an action hero. In Patriot Games he gets involved in Action only because he happens to witness an assassination attempt, before he attempts to spend the rest of the film avoiding action of any sort. In Clear And Present Danger he stays out of the action for well over an hour and when he does get involved it's clear that he shouldn't be there and that people like Clark (Willem Dafoe), should. Shadow Recruit throws all that out of the window and puts Ryan on a motorbike, chasing a terrorist. If you want an Action hero pick a better James Bond clone: Jack Ryan isn't one.

Tense moments involving printers


The best 'action' scene in Clear And Present Danger involves Ritter, Ryan and two printers. This is indicative of the above (Ryan does not do action) and a sneaky sign of why Shadow Recruit is such a disappointing Jack Ryan film: there's next to no intrigue. Despite the marketing campaign suggesting otherwise Ryan never has any doubts about who's on what side. 'You have to pick someone to trust Jack' says Harper (Kevin Costner) at one point. Other than Harper, what exactly is the other choice presented to Ryan in that film?

Sitting behind desks


His family targeted on US soil, his own life clearly at threat, where does Jack Ryan go in Patriot Games? Behind a desk, where he spends all night reading files, figuring out what needs to happen. Though the new Jack Ryan is meant to be a clever bod, there is rarely anything of this level of patience and intelligence in Shadow Recruit.

A cast of characters


Whilst Jack Ryan might be the hero of Jack Ryan films, the cast around him represent the parts of the films approach to American politics and culture that he cannot. Again, Clark in Clear And Present Danger is the action Ryan cannot fulfil but there are other equally important elements. Marty in Patriot Games represents a healthy amount of cynicism that wouldn't be very becoming of 'boy scout' Ryan. Ritter, Cutter and the President are political corruption writ large. James Earl Jones fulfils the mentor and friend role of Kevin Costner in Shadow Recruit but crucially isn't required to do anything else, like training Ryan: being a mentor is enough. Shadow Recruit has a good guy, a bad guy, Costner and Knightley and that really is it. It relies far too much on a meagre cast. Jack Ryan may be only one man, but the good films are about much more.



By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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