The character was first introduced into the pop culture universe during the late years of the Cold War, but don’t be confused by the movie’s Russian setting and villain, as one of the key words through the development of the project was "contemporary." The setting may remind some audiences of the Soviet era, but the issues that Jack Ryan needs to face down all spring from the world as it exists today.
"Our world right now faces incredible economic uncertainty," said producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. "The notion of what is a super power has evolved and who can carry what muscle, and what is America’s role in the world. Terrorism. All of those things exist in this movie. It feels incredibly contemporary, particularly the economic aspect of it in the sense that a lot of the larger earthquake-like moves that predicate this movie have to do with what is the economic order and who is trying to take control over it. It’s not a movie about economics, but the effect of what’s going on in the world is very, very driven and very clear in this movie."
Of course, it’s impossible to address the issues of global politics, terrorism and America’s place on the international stage without recognizing the importance of September 11th, 2001 and the World Trade Center bombings. Instead of just mentioning the tragic events, however, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit makes it an incredibly vital motivator for the lead character. In fact, di Bonaventura even went as far as to say it may be "the first post-9/11 spy movie" because of its significance in the story.
While changing the context and setting of Jack Ryan’s origin story may unnerve those who have been reading about the character’s adventures for decades, the reality is that the important threads are being kept intact. For example, Clancy’s books had a young Ryan involved enlisting in the military and seeing his career come to an early end after a helicopter crash resulted in a permanently damaged back. The new film features similar events, albeit set during the War on Terror in Afghanistan. What’s more, the movie won’t have him making millions of dollars working for Merrill Lynch like he does in the novels, but the rebooted version of the famous spy does have an expertise in economics that he is able to put to use in his field work.
Said director Kenneth Branagh, "If there were a subtitle at the moment for the ever-evolving ‘What’s the film about?’ it would at least be partly 'What does it take to be a patriot?' How do you make a contribution that is not to do with nationalism, but is to do with this very interesting concept of what love of country may mean. That’s a concept sometimes people can understand, but really, whether in the military, sometimes in politics, but in our own my ordinary, smaller lives, you may say, we’re mostly interpreting that through interaction with people, individuals. Or how you relate to your fellow soldier, your fellow worker, or your partner in your life. We were so full of these things springing out of this, what we hope is a very good yarn."
Stay tuned for more of our coverage from the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit set visit later this week!