According to several outlets, it has been officially announced that John Krasinski will be taking on the mantel of Jack Ryan in a new series from Amazon. The show reportedly will establish a new chronology as it is a retelling of the character’s rise through the CIA ranks. Krasinski will be the fifth actor to take on the role, following Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and most recently Chris Pine. As this new project will be more episodic (because you know, TV) it will be interesting to see how closely they stick to the life of Jack Ryan in the books, where he eventually becomes the President. However, when I say it will be interesting I assume this to be true for someone, but that someone is not me. I have had my fill of Jack Ryan, in both book and on screen.
Jack Ryan is an analyst, essentially a paperwork guy who gets into the field to serve as a diplomat. Maybe that’s the plan with the new Amazon series, in which case Krasinski is perfect. Imagine Jack Ryan’s boss comes out to tell him that due to budget cuts they will only track terrorist cells whose attacks are guaranteed to happen within the next week. Jack makes a classic “Jim” face at the camera while Dwight fights to be moved to the Syrian operation and Kevin realizes the woman he’s been talking to on the internet is really an ISIS agent.
Jack Ryan is smart, capable, and an interesting character, but we have already seen his journey, and no amount of reboots is going to change what he is at the core.
I am waiting to see another character from the “Ryanverse” finally get his full day in the sun, and that character is John Clark.
Some literary backstory: John Clark begins life as John Kelly and joins the Navy during the Vietnam War where he eventually becomes a SEAL. As a SEAL, John takes part in several special operations in Vietnam and after the war loses his pregnant wife in a car accident. He eventually meets a young woman with whom he begins a new relationship who, unbeknownst to John, is on the run from a drug ring for whom she worked as a mule (drug courier, not farm animal). Her former employers track her down and kill her, after which John goes on a murderous rampage and takes the drug ring apart. This story is told in the novel Without Remorse. Facing several murder convictions, John joins the CIA and adopts the new surname Clark and makes several cameos in Clancy’s novels and was portrayed on screen twice (once by William Dafoe in Clear and Present Danger, and once by Liev Schreiber in The Sum of All Fears). The only other novel to actually focus on John Clark is Rainbow Six.
John Clark has always been the more interesting character to me. He bends the rules when needed, spends all of his time in the field, serves as a manifestation of our darker desires to see those who truly deserve their comeuppance receive it in abundance, and often in very creative ways. This is a man truly at home in an era when we want our heroes haunted, flawed, and a certain shade of grey. Currently, Paramount owns the film rights to Without Remorse, and the actor most recently attached to the project was Tom Hardy (SWOON!!!), with talks about Kevin Costner reprising his role from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Christopher McQuarrie (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation) was set to direct and co-write the screenplay with Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and Stuart Beattie (Collateral). I am holding on to hope, but currently this one seems dead in the water.
What do you think? Is John Clark strong enough to carry his own movie, or is he better as a supporting character?