What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the name “Jack Ryan”?
Did you picture thick novels with plated lettering on them? Maybe an image of creator Tom Clancy who obviously hated the sun…
But what about Jack Ryan the character? Any thoughts? Sure, maybe you pictured one of the several actors who portrayed him on screen – Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Chris Pine. Aside from being white men, there’s not exactly a common thread there. Even more so when you consider they all played him a little bit different. I’m gonna be honest though, I’ve kinda forgotten about Affleck’s version in The Sum Of All Fears. You probably did too. Let’s move on.
A new series is coming to Amazon Prime on August 31st as part of their effort to shed niche programming for more name recognition fare. Simply titled “Jack Ryan”, it has John Krasinski in the lead with Abbie Cornish and Wendell Pierce costarring. But what does that mean? Who the hell is this damn guy?
In the novels, Jack Ryan starts is a CIA analyst who has the ear of CIA Director Admiral Greer. Thanks to his whole averting World War III by helping a Soviet sub slip away, he rapidly moves up the chain throughout the novels until eventually serving as President. That’s right, a CIA dude becomes president. But that’s what he does, not who he is.
What do you really know about Ryan? Consider James Bond, a character who’s been portrayed by about as many actors as Ryan. You know he likes women, alcohol, has no respect for advanced technology or authority. Also, he usually wears a tux while assassinating someone because we like our killers refined. So, what about Dr. Ryan? Well, aside from a fear of general unease with flying and the fact that he’s anything but a James Bond or Jason Bourne, there’s really not much in the general audience knowledge base about him. Most don’t even know what he’s a Doctor of (it’s history). And that makes him a bit of a blank slate for which Amazon has to play with, which could either work to their detriment or benefit.
If you’ve seen the recent trailer for the series (and if you haven’t, go here then come back and finish reading this), you get about as good of a glimpse of what this show is gonna be without actually watching the show itself. While the trailer does a good job setting up Ryan as an analyst who uncovers a devious plot, it also goes ahead and lets you know this isn’t gonna be a show entirely about a dude at his desk doing research. Nope, he’s going in the field! Or as Amazon put it, “The analyst is activated”. Yeah, I thought that was kinda cheesy too, but I’m gonna try to overlook it.
I have to admit, I’m a bit on the fence about the show. I almost want Ryan to stay out of the fray, a guy on the periphery of everything using brains over brawn to solve the problem. It may sound odd to read, but good tension can be brought to a scenes with people furiously typing away on a computer. In fact, Clear and Present Danger had a pretty good one:
Then again, the initial teaser videos, if you can call them that, were about 10 seconds long featuring guys, clearly nefarious, popping out sim cards and tossing them into a big pile. I don’t know why, but those little snippets got me excited. More than likely, the series trailer was intentionally packed with action shots to attract eyeballs belonging to people who aren’t exactly sure who Ryan is or why they might wanna watch a show starring that guy from The Office.
In a few days, we’ll have our answers. Amazon has already greenlit season 2, so whatever they saw clearly impressed them. Let’s hope they chose wisely.
Photos courtesy of.
Check back here for more updates on Jack Ryan and follow Sean on Twitter @seanlawwriter. And follow Novel2Screen!