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
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
"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
"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
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
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
"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 fiancĂ©e 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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