“Jack Ryan” brings new twist to old story

A Poster for Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Photo courtesy of IMDB).

A Poster for Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Photo courtesy of IMDB).

Michael Stevenson, Editor in Chief

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In today’s day and age, most TV shows and films are reboots, prequels or sequels of past works. This trend of remaking old movies and TV shows started out with the making of film series such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and 21 Jump Street. In these films, the directors made sure to pay homage to the achievements of the original product while putting a new and interesting twist on the characters and plotlines. These reboots were  successful (besides the Star Wars prequel), and re-made the brand of the original films. This was also the case for Amazon Prime’s Jack Ryan.

In 1984, Tom Clancy’s novel The Hunt for Red October told a tale about a CIA Agent (Jack Ryan) who was tasked with hunting down Soviet spies during the Cold War. This was a huge success, and was followed by Red Storm Rising (1986), Patriot Games (1987), and The Cardinal of the Kremlin (1988). All of these books followed Ryan as he battled with Soviet spies. Each book had Ryan travelling to new and exotic locations and battling strong and cunning villains.

The books were so popular that in 1990, A Hunt for Red October, a movie starring Harrison Ford, came out based on the Tom Clancy novels. The movie had many sequels follow it with Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994) rounding out the trilogy, and The Sum of all Fears (2002) and Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit (2014) coming in as stand-alone films in the series.

Both stand alone films did  decent in the box office, but did not do well enough to provide sequels.  The Jack Ryan movies very well for movies based on books, especially during the past decade, where most movies that are based on books have fallen short of expectations. Movies such as Ender’s Game, the Divergent series, The Hunger Games series, and The Mortal Instruments series have all been major letdowns in the eyes of the many readers. Audiences did not like the changes that the directors made to the characters, and felt that the movies did not highlight the right parts of the series. It is always difficult comparing books to movies because books have the ability to go into so much more depth.. For authors, they have no restrictions on how long their books are, whereas directors have to make sure their movies are under three hours or sometimes even less depending on the studio’s preference.  Converting a book idea into a TV series, however, gives directors a much longer time frame to develop their characters and plot. The new Amazon series, Jack Ryan is an amazing example of this.

The writers have found a way to reinvent the character while keeping the overall themes of the books present. For example, in the books and movies, Jack Ryan is hunting down Soviet spies. In the Amazon Prime series, however, Ryan is hunting down terrorists. The series also takes a new approach to the character by showing how Ryan got his job at the CIA as opposed to showing him when he is in his prime.

The show focuses on Ryan’s first mission as a CIA operative, and the viewer learns along with Ryan the ins and outs of hunting down criminals. The series also introduces the viewers to popular characters in the series, at the same time that Jack Ryan is being introduced to them. In the show, the viewers see how Jack met James Greer and Cathy Muller, who are important characters in the book series. Hard-core fans were thrilled to see these characters, who partially acted as Easter Eggs in the show.The first season did an excellent job of taking the star character and putting him in today’s world. They do a good job of using events that happened in real life and incorporate them into the show. The writers were able to get a star-studded cast to bring their characters to life. Actors such as John Krasinski, Abbie Cornish, and Wendell Pierce lead the way.

Once again the show was very good, and I would rate it a 9.5 out of 10.

 

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