Who is the better Jack Ryan?

284px-Jack_Ryan_(All_Characters)January 17, 2014 – The latest Jack Ryan thriller, “Shadow Recruit” hits theaters in Philadelphia today.

Like the James Bond character, several Hollywood actors, including Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford (twice), and Ben Affleck, have portrayed Ryan on the big screen. In the latest installment, Chris Pine steps into the role. He’s no stranger to taking on characters made famous by other actors, recently portraying Captain Kirk, a role originated by William Shatner in “Star Trek” in the 1960s.

Jack Ryan is author Tom Clancy’s marine turned CIA hero from his novels “The Hunt for Red October”, “Patriot Games”, “Clear and Present Danger”, and “The Sum of All Fears”. “Shadow Recruit” is considered a prequel to these novels, and takes place before Ryan becomes a CIA agent.

In “The Hunt for Red October”, the first in the series, Alec Baldwin plays Ryan. Kevin Costner and Harrison Ford turned down the role prior to Baldwin’s acceptance. Ford thought he was better suited to play the Russian submarine officer, but that role went to Sean Connery instead. The movie hit theaters almost 25 years ago, before Baldwin was a household name. The actor isn’t exactly known for his tough guy persona. More likely, you equate him with playing Meg Ryan’s love interest in “Prelude to a Kiss”, or as Jack Donaghy in “30 Rock”.

Two years later, Harrison Ford accepted the role as Ryan in “Patriot Games”. He also played Ryan two years after that in “Clear and Present Danger.” Ford’s Ryan was a gun carrying tough guy who used his brains and any ammo he could get his hands on to take down the enemy. It worked well because audiences are used to seeing Ford play the strong hero, a role he tackled it in many other films, including the Indiana Jones series.

In 2002’s “Sum of All Fears”, Ben Affleck became the third Jack Ryan. Like Baldwin, Affleck doesn’t radiate a tough guy or American hero image. He’s currently filming the lead role in the next Batman movie, but many fans voiced their opinion loudly when they said they couldn’t imagine him in the role. It doesn’t seem likely that Affleck could save the world from pending disaster.

Without seeing Chris Pine’s version of Ryan, my opinion is limited. However, based on his performances in other movies, such as “People Like Us” and “This Means War”, I believe he falls into the Baldwin, Affleck category.

Who was Tom Clancy’s favorite? He passed away in October, before he could see Chris Pine play the role, but he noted that he thought Ford was too old. He also said he appreciated Affleck’s attempt. Overall, he wasn’t a huge fan of any of the movie adaptations. “Giving your book to Hollywood is like turning your daughter over to a pimp,” he said.

Easily, my favorite Jack Ryan is Harrison Ford, so I will have to agree to disagree with the author. This is followed purely by acting ability with Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine.

“Shadow Recruit” is directed by Kenneth Branagh. It also stars Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner.


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2 thoughts on “Who is the better Jack Ryan?”

  1. Wow I’m realizing I’ve been living under a rock for the last 25 years. I haven’t seen any of these movies, and I didn’t realize they all followed the same character. Your write up definitely intrigued me. Do you recommend reading the books first? Should I watch the movies in any particular order?

    1. Hi Tracy,

      Clancy’s books are a fun read, so I would highly recommend them if you like spy novels. As far as the movies go, they follow the order of the books, but stand alone as individual stories, so it doesn’t matter. The movie that begins today is a prequel, so if you watched that first, it would spoil anything. My personal preference is beginning with The Hunt for Red October (book and/or movie). Thanks for stopping by…

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