Alex Cross and Jack Reacher are character-anchored action franchise titles due out later this year; both have generated controversy, as a result of unpopular casting - namely, Tyler Perry as Cross and Tom Cruise as Reacher. Both headlining stars have loyal followings, but the jury's still out as to whether or not they work on their own terms (much less, as unconventional interpretations of those characters).
Today, we get a (very) small taste of what to expect from Chris Pine in a similar upcoming title, Jack Ryan - a reboot of the Tom Clancy franchise. Meanwhile, new pics have emerged from Skyfall, with Daniel Craig returning a third time as James Bond; however, we may be getting a more traditional 007 this time, as opposed to previous Craig films (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace).
Kenneth Branagh (Thor) only recently began filming on Jack Ryan, but that hasn't prevented Paramount from releasing an image teasing Pine as a youthful Ryan - one who, if nothing else, is daredevil enough to cruise around on a motorcycle. The storyline is all about how ex-Marine Ryan transitioned from a Wall Street type to a CIA analyst, after stumbling upon an international terrorist plot to devastate the U.S. economy (led by Branagh as the villain).
This first look at Jack Ryan could be read as a sign that Pine is playing "action hero Ryan," along the lines of Harrison Ford's Ryan in Patriot Games/Clear and Present Danger - as opposed to Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck's intellectual iterations in The Hunt for Red October and Sum of All Fears, respectively (personally, this writer's favorite Ryan is still Baldwin).
UPDATE: We've added a second Jack Ryan pic, with Pine as Ryan and Kevin Costner as Ryan's mentor William Harper.
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Jack Ryan is being planned as the first in a trilogy, so it's possible Pine will initially play the title character as impulsive and reckless - maturing over the course of Branagh's film (and later installments, if they happen). Quantum of Solace might have done that with Craig's Bond, but the 2008 Writer's Strike and a rushed production resulted in a version of 007 that felt more like a simplified version of Jason Bourne (which is saying something).
Previously-released Skyfall trailers and featurettes suggest that Craig is playing Bond as more the genteel, but deadly, secret agent that fans have adored since Ian Fleming created the character almost 60 years ago (not to mention, 50 years of Bond movies). The latest screenshots support that notion, teasing a "steamy" encounter between Bond and the beautiful Agent Eve (Naomie Harris) - or, rather, one that involves shaving - as well as a meeting with the mysterious Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe).
There's also a new pic of Javier Bardem looking very Hannibal Lecter-like as a new blonde villain named Silva - further proof that Skyfall is shaping up to be a true Bond film.
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Skyfall opens in U.S. theaters on November 9th, 2012.
Jack Ryan hit theaters on Christmas Day 2013.