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I have a "thing" for Jack Ryan

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2005-07-11


I’ve had a “thing” for Jack Ryan for quite some time now. Jack Ryan is the man who saved America, if not the world from nuclear destruction several times now – not unlike that copy “weenie” Jack Bauer from TV’s 24. Jack Ryan is the same man who traveled to the jungles of South America in order to battle drug dealers while fighting Irish terrorists on our home soil after they attempted to take his life and the lives of his wife, daughter and unborn child. And let’s not forget the time Ryan came close to stopping terrorists detonating a nuclear device in Baltimore in order to try and start World War III.

Of course I’m talking about Jack Ryan – the star of novels by writer Tom Clancy and movies The Hunt for Red October (1990), Patriot Games (1992), Clear and Present Danger (1994) and The Sum of All Fears (2002).

The first Jack Ryan movie was The Hunt for Red October (which I saw the summer it opened at the old drive-in in Decatur). Alec Baldwin starred as Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst who figures out that Captain Ramius (Sean Connery) of the Soviet submarine Red October indents on defecting to the U.S., not unleashing a nuclear hell on the eastern seaboard. The movie follows Ryan as he is forced from his comfortable desk in Washington D.C. to the cold waters of the North Atlantic Ocean in search of the captain and his sub. (10/10)

Next came Patriot Games. Out was Baldwin in the role of Jack Ryan and in was mega-superstar Harrison Ford. This time, Jack Ryan is in the wrong place at the wrong time when a group of Irish Republican Army terrorists attempt to assassinate a member of the British royal family. In the confusion of the fight, Ryan manages to thwart the attempt and kills two of the IRA team members in the process. The brother of one of the slain men, Sean Bean (Boromir in Lord of the Rings), vows revenge on Ryan and his entire family. (8/10)

Harrison Ford reprised the Jack Ryan role in Clear and Present Danger. This time out, Ryan becomes embroiled in an illegal war being fought in Columbia between American commandos and narco traffickers. In one of the most exciting moments, Ryan is riding in a convoy of vehicles that comes under attack from mercenaries stationed above on building rooftops. Apparently, this footage was so realistic that it is now used in training for the CIA. (7/10)

Eight years passed between Clear and Present Danger and the next Jack Ryan sequel – The Sum of All Fears. Ford was out and the part was rewritten for someone younger in mind, probably to “reboot” the franchise and skew the character to a younger audience. Ben Affleck took over, turning the character from middle aged family man to a twenty-something trying to make his career and relationships work. (8/10)

The Sum of All Fears takes place in a time before the previous three movies, where Jack Ryan is a lowly CIA analyst assigned to monitor the Russians. When the Russian leader dies, an obscure paper Ryan wrote on his predecessor is brought out and Ryan is brought up into high-level meetings to get his opinion of the situation. It turns out that Neo-Nazis plan on exploiting the situation and exploding a nuclear weapon on American soil in attempt to ignite World War 3 between Russia and America.

Actor Live Schreiber (The Manchurian Candidate) steals the movie as conflicted CIA spook John Clark who’s more at home infiltrating Russian bases than carrying on a conversation.

In fact, a movie series following the John Clark character is set to open something in 2007. Though looking at the number of actors who played the Jack Ryan character, it’s anyone’s guess as to who’ll play John Clark.

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