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JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT

About The Production
"You sold this as an office job." -- Jack Ryan

Tom Clancy's most iconic character, Jack Ryan, returns to the big screen in this taut suspense thriller. When a global terrorist network is about to be activated, the brilliant CIA analyst (Chris Pine, "Star Trek") has no choice but to become operational. Yet when everyone who could stop the coming international mega-disaster has something to lose or something to hide, who can Ryan possibly trust?

In the wintry heart of Moscow, a Russian oligarch is about to set off a sophisticated but savage act of financial-based terrorism that could bring down the United States. Meanwhile, on Wall Street, covert CIA recruit Jack Ryan is about to get his very first field assignment - one that will instantly take him from an unheralded desk job to heading so deep into the shadows, he will no longer be sure who is a friend and who is a deadly enemy. The only thing of which he will be certain is that in this world where all motives are suspect, where secrets and lies abound, every perilous move he makes has world-altering stakes.

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" brings Clancy's Everyman CIA agent - the reluctant spy who entered the annals of popular culture as the scholar who must turn his counter-terrorism theories to action - into the 21st Century.

Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions presents a Lorenzo di Bonaventura/Mace Neufeld production of "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," directed by Kenneth Branagh and written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp based on characters created by Tom Clancy. The film stars Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh and Keira Knightley. The producers are Mace Neufeld, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, David Barron and Mark Vahradian and the executive producers are David Ellison, Dana Goldberg and Paul Schwake. Who Is Jack Ryan?

Since the master spy novelist Tom Clancy first introduced him in his intense submarine thriller, The Hunt for Red October, and then had him single-handedly foiling a deadly IRA plot in Patriot Games, Jack Ryan has become synonymous with a certain kind of vital, unseen hero. Just mention Ryan to a Clancy fan and the name instantly conjures up an image of smarts under fire, of unflinching but focused commitment in the face of global intrigue, of a very human man standing up to extraordinary threats. In the world of espionage, Ryan stood out. Largely untrained as a spy, but with an intellect to match his boldness, he didn't rely on gadgets or brawn so much as his mind and his gut, becoming an invaluable U.S. intelligence asset by always staying that one essential step ahead of those who would do the nation harm.

With Clancy's 13 Jack Ryan bestsellers and four blockbuster films, Ryan was soon embedded into the very fabric of popular culture, just as the Cold War was shifting into a trickier era of spycraft. But the filmmakers of "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" felt the beloved and increasingly relevant character should not be relegated to the past. After all, keen analysts like Ryan have since become the essential backbone of our new and more convoluted epoch of wired espionage as agents chase stateless actors and out-of-the-blue terrorist events. That's why the filmmakers were inspired not only to update Ryan's world for today's audiences but to go back his very beginnings, to tell the foundational tale of how he became the man Clancy made iconic.

"I think with Chris Pine as Jack Ryan, we are really redefining the character," says producer Mace Neufeld, who has been part of the Jack Ryan legacy since 1990 when he produced the very first film featuring the character, "The Hunt For Red October," which went on to become an influential hit and major award winner. "Chris and Ken Branagh have given Jack new life."

This isn't the first time Pine has rebooted a treasured character - he also recently re-envisioned the iconic role of Captain James T. Kirk in J.J. Abrams' acclaimed "Star Trek" series, which brought the sci-fi classic to a new generation. But here he would take a renowned character into our present reality, not the future.

Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, the producer known for the blockbuster "Transformer" series, explains: "We set out to create a modern origin story for Jack Ryan, so you get to see his path from a student to getting recruited into the CIA to becoming part of world-shattering events for the first time. You see the growth of his character, how he develops his sense of right and wrong, how he deals with his relationships and how handles all the questions about what it means to put yourself in harm's way. He's not someone who is a superhero. But he is someone who, when the times call for it, rises to the occasion - and there is also a lot of thrilling action in this story."

The filmmakers were thrilled to watch a contemporized Jack Ryan become flesh and blood, first in the gripping screenplay by Adam Cozad and David Koepp and then in the performance of Pine and the reality-driven directorial approach of Kenneth Branagh. "The result is a kind of first voyage of discovery for Jack, a man who never really expected to become a field agent, and together, Ken and Chris created their own take on Ryan that is fun and contemporary," says producer David Barron, known for his work on the "Harry Potter" franchise.

Producer Mark Vahradian, Di Bonaventura's on "Transformers" and others, notes that as the project developed, a cornerstone became "inventing a fresh story while also staying true to the mythology as Tom Clancy created it."

That meant exploring why Ryan remains so uniquely appealing among the multitudes of literary and cinematic spies. "He carves out his own space in the spy world," Vahradian explains. "He's more of an Everyman kind of spy. He's not a trained killer. He represents someone who gets tapped on the shoulder and is asked 'how far are you willing to go to do something necessary for your country?' That's what makes him so interesting - that inside he's one of us."

Screenwriters Cozad, who makes his debut with the film, and David Koepp -- whose action-thrillers range from "Premium Rush" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" to "Mission: Impossible" and "Jurassic Park" -- produced a script that underlines the idea of an ordinary man pushed to find in himself a paragon of courage and devotion that Clancy honed so deftly. At the same time, they crafted an original, high-tension story that delves into the most current of dangers: terrorism creeping into financial realms, with the potential to unleash unprecedented worldwide chaos.

"It was a great script with tremendous scale and it was a great match for Ken Branagh," says Di Bonaventura.

When Branagh agreed to come on board not only as the film's director but also as its complicated villain, Viktor Cherevin, he ignited the project. The Academy Award nominated actor and director was just coming off directing the superhero tale "Thor," and was ready to dive into yet another new arena with his first foray into global espionage.

Branagh's diverse background as one of the world's pre-eminent Shakespeareans mixed with his penchant for briskly-paced, smart thrillers seemed a lock both with the film's suspense and its overarching themes of power, responsibility and trust.

"One of the hardest things to do in film is to create massive scale while also holding onto the humanity of the characters. Ken has that ability and he never lets go of either those things through the whole movie," says Di Bonaventura.

Adds Neufeld: "Ken came in having read all of the Clancy books and he was just tremendously prepared. He also knows exactly how to talk to other actors. And he's tireless. There's more action in this film than in any of the previous Ryan films. It's still very much a thriller but Ken imagined some very big, exciting sequences."

For Branagh, the attraction began with the script. "It was nerve-jangling," he recalls of his first read. "It was an action thriller, but more than that, it carried an emotional charge that I was surprised by. You really care about Jack Ryan and he's such a distinctive kind of character."

Branagh had already read a few of the books, but he soon tucked into all 13 of Clancy's novels involving Ryan, immersing himself fully in Ryan's history and personality. "I enjoyed the paradox of Ryan," he says. "He's the best and the brightest, he has this brilliant analytical mind, and yet he's also somewhat reluctant as a CIA man. He has these vulnerable, regular guy qualities that make him remarkably empathetic."

He was especially excited to take Ryan into high-tech areas of intelligence that are emerging as key to safeguarding the future at this very moment in time. Perhaps nowhere is the U.S. more open to devastating attack that at the heart of a 24/7 wired financial system that could, potentially, be infiltrated without anyone seeing it coming. Branagh was intrigued that this is where Ryan's unique skills lie: in his ability to ferret out violent plots that are hidden deep inside computer networks until they are put into motion. "With his Wall Street background, Jack can analyse an entire inter-related global financial network and understand where it might be weak and cause a catastrophe," Branagh explains.

Yet for all his brilliance with technology, and all his analytical insight, Ryan is wholly unprepared for the extreme personal threats -- and even more so, the dire personal doubts -- he'll face once he goes fully operational. This equally fascinated Branagh.

"As Jack's story unfolds, it becomes about how a man like Jack handles the secrets and lies that are at the heart of leading a covert life," says the director. "He can't even tell his fiancée with whom he lives what he does. So we go on this personal journey with Jack as he figures out the right ways to do what he knows has to be done."

That journey took Branagh and the production from New York to Moscow to London and into his most intricately choreographed action sequences to date. He relished the experience. "Creating the landscape of a global thriller was great fun for me," he concludes. "Most of all, what we wanted to do with the filmmaking was put the audience in the very center of it, so that you feel like what's happening to Jack is happening right in the moment."

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