Tag Archives: Alec Baldwin

Jack Ryan: Shadow Reboot

Tom Clancy,  who created truckloads of novels filled with political and military fiction–as well as several video games that I know nothing about, died last week.  He left behind a legacy of practically inventing a genre of fiction, or at least reinventing it. Adaptations of his work breathed newSean Connery, Alec Baldwin and Scott Glenn life into movies about espionage and government conspiracies. Like his books, the best and worst of these films often featured Jack Ryan.

Billed as the thinking man’s James Bond: the character of  CIA analyst Jack Ryan, as portrayed by future comedian Alec Baldwin, first appears on screen in the submarine cold war epic The Hunt for Red October. The movie, about a Soviet defector played by Sean Connery (sounding quite Scottish rather than Russian) and his experimental submarine, finds Ryan a great negotiator and reluctant action hero.

Harrison Ford took Jack Ryan to the next level in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games.  Adding his signature scowl, Ford’sford Ryan gets quite a bit more physical while enhancing the cerebral nature of the character.   This work in my opinion is completely undone by future Batman Ben Affleck.

In a reboot of the series, The Sum of All Fears shows Jack Ryan recruited to the CIA by Morgan Freeman. We see Affleck play Ryan as uncertain of himself and out of his element. The origin story, however, doesn’t seem to get off the ground. Preventing a terrorist attack on American soil while trying to understand the world of high stakes espionage and keeping the details from his new wife– it just seems like too much for Affleck to handle… because it is.

This week saw the release of the trailer for a new Jack Ryan reboot. Hot off of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Chris Pine has stepped into yet another role established by someone else. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is more than a reboot, it is a wholly original script pulling little to nothing from the source material. The trailer suggests the departure from any existing Jack Ryan property  and the conversion to full action film. Also it appears Jack Ryan gets younger with every reboot.

 

I will do my best to reserve judgment until I see the film, but it may have been better to let this character die with his creator.

 

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Take Me to your Leader: Indulging Celebrity and Looking For Richard

When and if aliens finally make themselves known to the people of our planet, they will make the assumption that we are ruled by film actors. Can we blame them? If they peruse our periodicals and check out the things we actually do with the Internet, it would be the only logical conclusion. Aliens are pretty logical. The way that we value the opinions of film actors affects everything from commerce to politics.

When an actor reaches a certain level of celebrity, they are able to dictate the market…to a degree.

Most of us have seen a movie simply becauseLooking-For-Richard a particular actor had a role in it. The movies produced by actors who have reached this level of notoriety often involve a departure from the genre that made them famous. These projects are often produced or directed by the actor. My favorite example of this concept is the 1996 Al Pacino film Looking for Richard.

Though he began his career on the stage, Al Pacino made his name playing gangsters and cops in some of the most popular films in those genre. After a run of successes leading to the mid 90s, Pacino decided to pay tribute to his first love. He made a documentary about the work of William Shakespeare and its relevance in the modern world. Pacino produced and directed this pet project over the course of four years. Working around his shooting schedule for larger projects (evident because of hair and facial hair changes), Pacino and his famous friends set out to produce scenes from Richard III on a grand scale, shooting crucial scenes on location in The Cloisters and the church of St. John The Divine with actors like Alec Baldwin and Kevin Spacey working for scale ($40 per day).

Early in production, Pacino had a revelation: Filming a straight version of the play would never top the 1955 Sir Laurence Olivier version. Rather than shut the film down, Pacino went to the streets. Interviewing average people about their thoughts on Shakespeare, Pacino inter-spliced these with scenes from the play.

What makes this movie fun to watch is the lack of indulgence that usually accompanies a project like this. The conversations that erupt during read-throughs, the comparison of British-born actors verses American-born ones in explaining their ability to perform the Bard.

Once shooting had wrapped, 80 hours worth of film was  whittled down to the 112-minute release.

The film was destined to lose money, and without volunteer cast and crew, it never would have been completed. The passion for Shakespeare thatspacey each of the actors displays goes a long way in showing why his work is still so prominent today. A list of movies that borrowed from or modernized a Shakespeare plot would far exceed the space allotted.

So if aliens come looking for understanding about the human race, I hope the look past our current obsession with celebrity. I hope they somehow stumble onto the works of William Shakespeare, or failing that, Al Pacino’s film would also suffice.

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