R.I.P. Tom Clancy – Thank you for your Jack Ryan thrillers!

RIP_TomClancy

Tom Clancy, the Baltimore-born author died Tuesday October 2nd in his hometown at the age of 66, two months’ shy of the publish date of his new Jack Ryan novel, Command Authority. It’s fascinating to see how the former insurance agent couldn’t find a publisher for his first book, The Hunt for Red October, until Naval Institute Press, which never bought original fiction, took a chance on him in 1985. It’s a great American success story as his work shot up to the NY Times’ best-seller list (17 out 26 of his books made the best seller list), he even garnered the attention of President Ronald Reagan who’s a big fan of his work.

Hollywood took notice and his film adaptations were box office hits. I happen to be a big fan of his Jack Ryan thrillers. Though The Hunt for Red October with Alec Baldwin as the original Jack Ryan is the best of the series, I also have a soft spot for the more action-packed thrillers with Harrison Ford in the role, Patriot Games and Clear & Present Danger. I enjoy spy thrillers but the strength of Mr. Clancy’s work lies in the protagonist who’s relatable and easy to root for. Even when the film itself is subpar (The Sum of All Fears), the valiant, patriotic but NOT a superhero Jack Ryan endures. Soon the character will be revived with the fourth actor playing the role, more on that in a bit.

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Clancy himself is ambivalent about being a Hollywood darling, apparently the lack of creative control bothered him, as I’d think it would any author. “Giving your book to Hollywood is like turning your daughter over to a pimp,” he famously said. (per ABCnews.com) His reach extends beyond films. His work had inspired TV shows like 24 and Homeland, as well video games like Splinter Cell, which according to NYTimes, were so realistic, the military licensed them for training.

Here’s a tribute from my friend and blog staff Ted S., who’s a big fan of Mr. Clancy:

Tom Clancy was one of my favorite fiction writers back in high school and college, I always get excited when his new novel hit the book shelves. But I have to admit after 9/11, I kind of loss interest in his books. I think I’ve read only two of his novels after the 9/11 attack. You see most of his novels were about what if scenarios and when a real tragedy happened, I just loss interest in his work. He in fact got some heat after 9/11, in one of his novels, Debt of Honor, a “terrorist” clashed an airplane into the State Capital Building in D.C., killing most the government officials, including the president. So of course some people blamed Clancy for writing things write that, but I thought it was pretty silly to blame a fiction writer.

Hollywood has turned four of his novels into films, The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of all Fears. Out of the four films, I thought The Hunt for Red October was the best one, in fact I thought it’s even better than the book version, you can read why I thought so in this post. Funny enough though, out of all of the Jack Ryan novels, I liked The Hunt for Red October the least. Now, The Hunt Red October and Patriot Games stayed pretty true to the source material, while Clear and Present and The Sum of all Fears weren’t. I even remember Clancy was quite upset at the changes the screenwriters made to Clear and Present Danger, he even bad-mouthed the movie before it opened in theaters.

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He wasn’t too happy that Jack Ryan was made into the main character in the movie, in the novel John Clark (Willem Dafoe‘s character in the movie) was the main lead and Ryan didn’t show up until half way through the book. Of course when you have Harrison Ford as the star, he’s still a box office force at the time, you can’t make him a supporting character. So I didn’t mind the filmmakers decided to make that change.

I really like the Jack Ryan series, both films and novels, because he’s more of thinking man’s action hero. In fact in most of the novels, Ryan wasn’t part of the action at all, he uses mostly his brain to solve problems and leave all the action stuff to his comrades Clark and Chavez.

Out of all of Clancy’s novels, my absolute favorites were Without Remorse and The Cardinal of the Kremlin; the former has been in development hell for years, at one point Keanu Reeves signed on to star and John McTiernan was attached to direct but the studio went bankrupt before the cameras started rolling and the last I heard Tom Hardy was courted to play the young John Clark. I hope the new Jack Ryan film does well and maybe they can incorporate the storyline from The Cardinal of the Kremlin into the eventual sequel.

– Ted S.

Well, it’s a bit of peculiar timing that the new poster of the new Jack Ryan film is released on the day of Clancy’s death. But the pensive pose of Chris Pine actually looks appropriately somber, as if the character’s mourning the death of the creator.

JackRyanShadowRecruitPoster

Apparently this film is NOT based on a particular Clancy novel, instead, it’s an original story initially conceived by screenwriter Hossein Amini featuring the Jack Ryan character (per Wiki). Glad they still put Clancy’s name on the poster though. The title seems to have been changed from Shadow One to Shadow Recruit, and it’ll focus on Jack as a young covert CIA analyst who uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. I’m quite looking forward to it given I’m a fan of the character, and Kenneth Branagh directing (as well as playing the villain) doesn’t hurt. Nice to see Kevin Costner playing his military mentor, though I’m not too fond of Keira Knightley as the love interest.

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The trailer’s finally released today, check it out:

The film is scheduled to be released on Christmas Day in the US.

So THANK YOU Mr. Clancy for giving us such great thrillers, and an enduring character we can enjoy for years to come.


So what’s your favorite Tom Clancy work, are you looking forward to the new Jack Ryan film?

Five for the Fifth October 2012: Spy Edition

Hello folks, since October 5 2012 edition of Five of the Fifth happens to fall on Bond’s 50th Anniversary, all the questions have a SPY theme in honor of our super spy 007.

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here. So let’s get started, shall we?
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1. Well, now that Adele’s Skyfall theme song has been officially released, I’m quite pleased to see the classic ballad is back again. I’ve listened to it half a dozen times now and the melody easily gets stuck in my head. I like that there’s a trace of the Bond theme in it, and it doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of Adele’s voice. She’s channeling Dame Shirley Bassey, though I don’t think anyone could match the Welsh singer’s powerful pipes. So take a listen below…

Now on to the two-part question: Thoughts on Adele’s song AND which singer/band do you wish would sing the Bond theme song next?

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2. James Bond might be the world’s most famous spy character, but Ian Fleming isn’t the only popular British spy author. This article on Word and Film site lists all the films based on English author John le Carre’s classic British spy and espionage novels. I have only seen three of them on the list: Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, The Constant Gardener and The Tailor of Panama, and they’re all very good.

I’m curious to check out the rest from that list, especially The Spy Who Came in from the Cold starring Richard Burton. That sounds really intriguing.

Are you a fan of Le Carre’s work? Which of his books is your favorite?

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3. A few days ago I came across this Best Bond Movies poll that the MI6-HQ site conducted late last year. Below are the results of the ‘most favored’ James Bond films by the fans:

Rank Film Actor Score
1 Casino Royale Daniel Craig 75%
2 Goldfinger Sean Connery 54%
3 From Russia With Love Sean Connery 53%
4 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service George Lazenby 46%
5 GoldenEye Pierce Brosnan 37%

The Living Daylights made the top 10 at #8 (which makes me happy), but what I find most interesting is that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service made the top 5!

So even though people didn’t like George Lazenby, apparently they still love the film. That’s one of the Bond films I really want to revisit again, I might do it yet this month as I don’t remember much about it aside from that heartbreaking finale. I’m even more curious as Christopher Nolan said it’s his favorite Bond film, so who knows, perhaps a remake is in order with a more capable Bond actor?

What’s your thoughts on the poll and/or OHMSS film specifically?
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4. Now switching gears from MI-6 to CIA… Americans’ got our own super spy too, y’know 😀 The name is Ryan, Jack Ryan. Ok it doesn’t have the same catchy ring to it and the franchise is not nearly as lucrative, but the Tom Clancy’s character has quite a fan base.

And the reboot coming up next year seems to be going back to basics, titling it simply Jack Ryan, and casting the young and hip Capt Kirk Chris Pine in the role. Interestingly enough, he’s surrounded by Brits: Kenneth Branagh is directing and starring as the villain and Keira Knightley as his wife. But hey, he’s got Kevin Costner as his CIA mentor.

For me, my favorite Jack Ryan actor is Harrison Ford, but it could be because Patriot Games was the first movie I saw of the franchise. I know most of you probably love Alec Baldwin most as he’s the first in The Hunt For The Red October, and I might revisit that movie at one point, but I quite like Ford’s intensity. He might appear curmudgeon, which somehow I find endearing, but to me he captures that hard life and being constantly on edge as what I imagined his job would entail.

So, who’s your favorite actor portraying Jack Ryan?
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5. Now, back to Bond again as today is Global Bond Day after all. As the franchise keeps going on and on, let me turn to the one who started it all: Ian Fleming. I’d love to see the creator of Commander Bond gets a proper biopic treatment on the big screen. Well, last May there were reports circulating that Duncan Jones (director of Moon, Source Code, etc.) is going to be at the helm. As The Guardian article says, Fleming’s fascinating life story seems to be worth telling and no doubt inspired his creation, inspired by his years in the British naval intelligence during WWII. He reportedly lived a hard life too, smoking and drinking (60 cigarettes a day??!), and was also quite the playboy.

I haven’t heard of who’d be cast as Fleming. I think I heard James McAvoy was rumored at some point, which would be a good choice I think, aside from the fact that Fleming has Scottish roots. Now if they decide to do a biopic on his later years though, I’d love to see Geoffrey Rush play him. I mean, I even found this photo when I was searching on Google, so obviously I’m not the only one who think of their uncanny resemblance!

Thoughts on this biopic, now who would you like to see portray Ian Fleming?


Well, that’s it for the Special SPY edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀