Baldwin, Ford, Affleck … Clooney?

Posted by · 4:15 pm · July 6th, 2009

George ClooneyIsn’t it funny how there are some high-profile films that you anticipate, see, thoroughly like at the time … and then promptly forget about until they crop up on late-night TV, in conversation or in some news archive, and you think, “Hey, that wasn’t half bad?”

Such is the sort of flashback I had while reading on Anne Thompson’s blog about the possible resurrection of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan franchise.  My first thought was that the films are collectively something of a 1990s time-capsule item, and perhaps best left in that era — but then, my first thought was that we’d left the franchise in Harrison Ford’s hands 15 long years ago.

For whatever reason, it entirely slipped my mind that the Ryan saga had already been rebooted and de-aged for the 21st century, in the shape of Phil Alden Robinson’s disposable but thoroughly enjoyable 2002 “The Sum of All Fears,” with a pre-backlash Ben Affleck doing the honors. Whether or not the film, with its terrorist-heavy plot, came too soon after 9/11, it did respectable business, but the overhaul didn’t seem to stick in the wider public imagination.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that, after lying dormant for 7 years (a similar gap to the one that separated “The Sum of All Fears” and “Clear and Present Danger”), Jack Ryan is rumored to be making another return, this time in the more mature guise of George Clooney.

It makes sense on paper, not least because Clooney leans closer to the Harrison Ford demographic that served the franchise well two decades ago, but I can’t help wondering whether — short of a cinematic reinvention akin to that of Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne novels — the moment has passed.

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12 responses so far

  • 1 7-06-2009 at 4:31 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    Weren’t George Clooney’s Oscar-winning and Oscar-nominated roles both offered to and rejected by Harrison Ford?

    It’s strange to read such a lukewarm description of The Sum of All Fears, though. I saw the film years ago and absolutely hated it, and just assumed that it was the nail in Jack Ryan’s coffin to explain the dormancy of the franchise. Oh well.

  • 2 7-06-2009 at 4:47 pm

    Marlowe said...

    Didn’t they talk about James Franco playing Jack Ryan at one point? Did that fall apart, or was it just conjecture to begin with?

  • 3 7-06-2009 at 4:59 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    Clooney: Play Sam Fisher in a “Splinter Cell” movie based off the video game. The moment has not passed for Splinter Cell. Lots of money to be made, Mr. Clooney.

  • 4 7-06-2009 at 6:16 pm

    The InSneider said...

    This is actually a pretty smart move for ol’ George in the wake of all the Clooney isn’t a movie star articles. Better pick than Franco too. Love the kid but he’s too young.

  • 5 7-06-2009 at 6:56 pm

    Ben M. said...

    I felt Sum of All Fears was okay, not the level of the others (I actually am a huge fan of Patriot Games in particular) but it did well and I wouldn’t be against a direct sequel to that. I kinda wish they stick with a younger Jack Ryan if they decide to reboot, or how about a Fears spin-off focused on John Clark (played by Liev Schreiber), great actor and character and there have been novels that center on Clark.

  • 6 7-06-2009 at 7:00 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Actually, one idea for Clooney’s career that has been floating in my head is maybe he could direct Batman 3 if Nolan doesn’t return (though it made more sense before he moved to Sony considering his strong WB ties before). Not the most obvious choice but I feel he is a very strong director and as long as he can handle a more complex action film it could be interesting, besides I know he loves Batman and regrets how Batman & Robin turned out so that could be his chance to make-up for it.

  • 7 7-06-2009 at 9:55 pm

    alynch said...

    Personally, I think “Clear and Present Danger” was one of the best action films of its decade. It’s one of those films (like “12 Angry Men”) that if I stumble upon it on television, I have to watch it to the end.

  • 8 7-07-2009 at 12:16 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Clooney should direct Batman 3 just to apologize for the abomination he was in.

  • 9 7-07-2009 at 1:33 am

    Nudgoo said...

    I really liked The Sum of All Fears.

    Clooney remains the only actor I can think of who could come close to being passable in a remake of Casablanca. Never did understand why people thought of Ford being the go-to guy for that one. They won’t remake it, of course (you would think… nay, hope).

  • 10 7-07-2009 at 2:14 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    “in the wake of all the Clooney isn’t a movie star articles”

    Wow, I can’t say I’ve seen those articles. The media line I’m more familiar with is quite the opposite — just last year, didn’t Time put him on the cover and declare him “The Last Movie Star” or some such title?

  • 11 7-07-2009 at 7:48 am

    RichardA said...

    I thought Harrison Ford was just right and age appropriate for the Jack Ryan role. Trying to young up Jack Ryan with Ben Affleck was just wrong. Suits doesn’t make the man–a little wrinkle does.

  • 12 7-08-2009 at 12:14 am

    Osborne Cox said...

    Guy, yes Time did sport the title “The Last Movie Star” and then Leatherheads proceeded to bomb hard at the box office. Then the title changed to “Celebrity who can’t open a movie unless his name follows Pitt and Damon.”