6 Sensational Secrets We Learned on the Set of 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'
Don’t be so quick to call this month’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit a reboot of the popular Tom Clancy franchise.
“I understand why people are saying that’s what it is,” producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura says, “but Chris Pine is so different than Harrison [Ford] and Alec [Baldwin]. It is Jack Ryan in the sense that he’s the everyman -- the sense of intelligence, the sense of physical capabilities without being Superman. I guess in that sense it’s a reboot in that we recognize all of those things. But Chris is so different and has a very different color as a result of that.”
A small group of film journalists have been invited to London’s financial district to observe Shadow Recruit director Kenneth Branagh shooting key scenes from the new Jack Ryan movie – the first time Clancy’s iconic spy has been on-screen since 2002’s The Sum of All Fears (where a young Ben Affleck stepped into the Ryan role).
Why are we in London?
“We debated a number of cities, and interestingly enough, Liverpool and London can double for New York and Moscow,” di Bonaventura says with a laugh. “I never would have known it. That’s why we’re here.
“Seriously, though, the villain of the piece is a man who has great wealth and great power, and would have a building just like this building. The financial district [in London] is very important to our decision to being here. We’re trying to communicate the idea of unrestrained wealth, and the power that comes along with it.”
Over the course of the day, we sat down with Branagh, Pine, Kevin Costner and di Bonavantura, the power brokers responsible for bringing Jack Ryan back from the realm of Hollywood obscurity. After previewing a few key items we learned, here are six spectacular spy facts we were able to smuggle off the set of Shadow Recruit. We hope that this information helps get you pumped for the newest Jack Ryan movie, which opens everywhere on January 17.
1. Shadow Recruit has roots in the tense political thrillers of the 1970s.
The latest TV commercials for the new Jack Ryan hammer home the point that Branagh directed Thor, which is smart. Appeal to that Marvel fan base. But when audiences settle in, they may get something closer to the riveting thrillers of the 1970s… which is fine by us.
“What's fun about this movie is that it's very Three Days of the Condor, very kinda All the President's Men,” Chris Pine says while on a break from a scene. “It's a puzzle. There are little tendon pieces to create the plot.
“Our movie may not have the biggest set pieces in the world. It's not Star Trek, in that there's an incredible amount of visuals, although [cinematographer] Haris Zambarloukos is shooting this incredibly well -- visually, it's very, very stunning. Even some of the shots in there, just the geometry of the building itself I think... it's really beautiful. But it's a thriller, it's a plot thriller. It's kinda building up tension piece by piece, moment by moment, and I look forward to seeing what it turns out to be, because I know a lot of it will happen afterwards in the editing process.”
2. Thanks to Star Trek, Chris Pine knows how to play a familiar character… and how NOT to play them.
“For me, it's always more interesting to start from square one,” Pine says about his approach to his intelligent action hero. “You take the fundamental pillars of the character and, around that, try to create something new and different. Just like with Kirk, for instance. I can't do what came before, who these other guys are as Jack Ryan. I can only do my version of it. But there are certain things that are fundamental to Jack. … He's kinda frumpy. He's more comfortable in his study. He's comfortable with his books. He's more comfortable putting a puzzle together. He'd rather spend a Sunday at home than go out. He's a homebody. There's a comfort in isolation, but there's a really intense confidence in his own abilities to figure stuff out and to work through things in his own mind.
“So it's balancing that kind of everyman with the thoughtfulness and the ability to be by himself and the comfort in isolation and then also that kind of intense confidence in his own abilities. And above and beyond that, you kinda wrap it around and create something [new].”
3. This isn’t Bond. It isn’t Bourne. And that’s fine with Branagh.
The director says that the script hooked him instantly. He also referenced ‘70s films like The Parallax View, and said that his hero’s extreme intelligence offered an excellent gateway into the series.
“He’s not a paid assassin,” Branagh says about Jack Ryan. “He’s not a man coming up from program. We don’t have the flamboyance of, say, Bond and we don’t have the extremity of something like Mission: Impossible as far as the technology and things that go on.
“In a weird way, even though Jack Ryan is the brightest and the best, he’s sort of an analyst with the great skillful, intellectual mind, he’s also in relative terms, he’s kind of an everyman. He doesn’t have the range of skills that Liam Neeson and I have. A very particular set. [Laughs] He doesn’t have that particular set of talents, but he’s got his brain and he’s got a desire to do something, to serve in some way and so all of that. It’s rich stuff.”
4. Kevin Costner was destined to be in a Jack Ryan movie.
The legendary leading man plays Pine’s mentor-partner in Branagh’s new movie. But years ago, he almost filled the shoes of the CIA analyst when Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford flirted with the part.
“I was offered the Jack Ryan series back in the very beginning, and I couldn’t do it,” the charismatic Costner says. “I think it was The Hunt for Red October. I couldn’t do it because I had already postponed Dances with Wolves for one year, and now I had a chance to do this Red October but I had already assembled this crew and I’d put my money into it. And then they offer me really a lot of money, more than I had ever seen, to do Hunt for Red October, and I said, “You know, ‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘More!’ It’s just no.
“But I went off and did [Wolves], and then never caught back up with the thing. It seemed like different people played Jack Ryan, or something like that. I think Jack Ryan passed me. I have to be the guy who says, 'You better hurry up, I mean it, she’s right behind you!'"
5. Shadow Recruit could lead to more – and familiar – Jack Ryan movies.
A colleague asked a great question: If this is a Ryan reboot, could Pine ever star in updated versions of The Hunt for Red October or Patriot Games? This new movie isn’t adapted from a specific Tom Clancy novel, but that doesn’t mean Pine won’t topline a recognizable Clancy story somewhere down the line if this movie is a massive hit.
“I never thought about that, but… it’s a good thought,” di Bonaventura says. “First, Hunt for Red October is one of my favorite films, so the idea of trying to redo that is, just, I don’t know. That’s an honest answer. All of them have a very specific political moment in time. I suppose you could do a Clear and Present Danger associated with Mexico pretty easily right now, couldn’t you?
“I haven’t really thought about it, honestly. We’ve just been so focused on making this movie work. A lot of them also play with the Soviet Union, and that… I don’t think you want to make a period version of this character. But I can’t rule it out.”
6. Finally, Pine sacrificed his body for this role. Appreciate him, people.
“I broke my finger in a stunt in a very not-too-romantic way,” the action star says, referring to a splint on his hand. “I was just trying to tackle someone and I just flicked his forearm and then screamed in pain.”
We remind him that he’s on the record. Maybe he wants to embellish his story a little, to make it more exciting?
“I'm an actor,” Pine says with a laugh. “But I am an awful liar.”
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens in theaters on Jan. 17, 2014.
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Sean O'ConnellFandango Bloggers
Sean is a film reviewer for The Washington Post and daily contributor to Fandango.