It seems like one of the unofficial rules in Hollywood over the past two decades has been “When in doubt, hire David Koepp.” The screenwriter has simply worked on too many franchise to recount in full here – including the Jurassic Park, Spider-Man, and Indiana Jones series, among others. Recently he was hired on to rework the script for Men in Black 3 – and now the Jack Ryan reboot as well.
Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian was previously brought on-board to rewrite the project – which is reportedly no longer being referred to as Moscow – but ended up passing on the job. Now Koepp has extra time to work on the screenplay, since the film won’t begin production until star Chris Pine completes his work on Star Trek 2.
As Deadline has pointed out, the 2007 Black List (read: list of best screenplays not yet produced) spec script Dubai by Adam Cozad was the basis for the Jack Ryan reboot. Cozad’s initial draft was then reworked slightly by Anthony Peckham (Sherlock Holmes) before Cozad took another pass at it. Zaillian was in line to “re-purpose” Cozad’s most recent draft, but now that job belongs to Koepp. How’s that for a short but exhausting bit of history?
This new Jack Ryan flick – which Lost helmer Jack Bender is still attached to direct – is said to pick up with the famous Tom Clancy character during his pre-CIA days, and reportedly follows Ryan as he becomes involved in an international conspiracy. So it essentially amounts to what you could call a re-prequel, or a rebooting prequel, in the vein of (to use an easy example) Batman Begins.
By the time Koepp gets through with his work on the Jack Ryan reboot script, I suspect it will be more action-oriented and along the lines of a standard Hollywood espionage adventure than Cozad’s original Dubai screenplay. That doesn’t necessarily mean the film won’t be as intelligent or well-crafted as it might’ve been had Paramount just moved ahead with Cozad’s earlier draft, but neither Peckham or Koepp are known for writing low-key, atmospheric thrillers.
I found the previous entries in the Jack Ryan franchise (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, etc.) to be by and large enjoyable, but nonetheless conventional spy thrillers with slight political overtones. This new picture isn’t the first (essentially) attempted reboot of the series after Harrison Ford stopped playing Jack Ryan – that honor belongs to The Sum of All Fears with Ben Affleck back in 2002 – so we’ll see how things work out for Paramount this time around (Sum of All Fears, for the record, at least did okay, financially speaking).
We’ll keep you posted on the status of the Jack Ryan reboot as more information is released.