Reviewing The Jack Ryan Series

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Jack Ryan #1: The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Release Date: March 2, 1990
Director: John McTiernan
Studio: Paramount Pictures
The Hunt For Red October, the first film in the Jack Ryan film franchise and the fourth book in Tom Clancy’s “Ryanverse” novel series, is an excellent white-knuckling submarine thriller of deep-sea espionage. It is a classic of high stakes Cold War political brinkmanship starring Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, James Earl Jones and others. Coming off the backs of 1987’s Predator and 1988’s Die HardThe Hunt For Red October was John McTiernan’s last classic film before a string of mostly forgettable movies and his impending legal troubles.

Jack Ryan #2: Patriot Games (1992)
Release Date: June 5, 1992
Director: Phillip Noyce
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Following the huge success of 1990’s The Hunt For Red October, Paramount was keen to produce a sequel, this time starring Harrison Ford and Sean Bean. Patriot Games is a slow-burn tale of revenge and heroism as Jack Ryan witnesses a radical IRA separatist group which attempts to kidnap members of the royal family. He saves the royal family but now must protect his own family from a lurking plot for vengeance. 

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Jack Ryan #3: Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Release Date: August 3, 1994
Director: Phillip Noyce
Studio: Paramount Pictures
After directing the second film adaptation of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series (Patriot Games, 1992) Phillip Noyce returned again to direct Clear and Present Danger. In the film, Harrison Ford reprises his role as Jack Ryan, and James Earl Jones also returns as Vice Admiral James Greer as a Columbian cartel plot unfolds that involves the highest levels of the American government.

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Jack Ryan #4: The Sum of All Fears (2002)
Release Date: May 29, 2002
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Based on Tom Clancy’s 1991 novel of the same name, The Sum of All Fears is the fourth major motion picture to feature Jack Ryan. This time it features Ben Affleck in the lead role in a somewhat apocalyptic installment in the Jack Ryan saga about a Neo-fascist plot to launch a nuclear war between Russia and the United States.

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Jack Ryan #5: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
Release Date: January 17, 2014
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Directed by Shakespearean Actor and theatrical virtuoso Kenneth Branagh (who also plays the lead villain of Viktor Cherevin, a shadowy Russian businessman), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a fun reboot of the Jack Ryan series, with Chris Pine and Keira Knightley, though this story was not based on any of Tom Clancy’s books. It is about a Russian plot to dump U.S. Treasuries coupled with a terrorist attack on Wall Street in order to cause a second global great depression. It is a tale of Russian revenge in a post 9/11 world.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was followed with yet another reboot of the Jack Ryan series, this time an Amazon series starring John Krasinski as a new buff, skilled, action hero version of Jack Ryan. Season One dropped in 2018 and it concerns a Middle Eastern terror plot that takes Jack all over the world including Yemen, France, and Turkey while the villainous Islamic extremist named Suleiman as his family begins falling apart and his wife flees in the night. It is a terrific short series but it was followed up with a sub-par second season about a gang plot in Venezuela. As of the time I am writing this review a third and fourth season is also in the works.

Ranking My Favorite Jack Ryan Films

#1 The Hunt for Red October (1990)

#2 Patriot Games (1992)

#3 Clear and Present Danger (1994)

#4 Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan Amazon Prime Series (2018-Present)

#5 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

#6 The Sum of All Fears (2002)

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