Things were looking grim for Paramount's reboot of the Jack Ryan series last week, when word got out that long-attached director Jack Bender (Lost, Alcatraz) had left the gestating project. When coupled with recent reports that suggest production will not begin until the film's screenplay is reworked for a reduced budget, it was starting to sound like this particular franchise restarter might fall into development limbo.
However, the situation is looking less dire now that multiple Oscar-nominated actor/writer/filmmaker Kenneth Branagh (or, as you may know him, the director of Thor) is said to be working out a deal for him to hold the directorial reins on the currently-untitled Jack Ryan flick, which was previously known as Moscow.
Variety, which also broke the story about Bender leaving the new Jack Ryan movie due to a scheduling conflict, has confirmed the news about Branagh being a strong possibility to come aboard the project - and get it back on track to begin production by the second half of 2012. The only "issue" right now is that Branagh might have to pass on directing The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (there's a mouthful) if he signs on for the Ryan flick.
Branagh would be a surprise replacement for Bender, but also a promising one at that. The latter is an Emmy-winner with decades-worth of excellent TV directing under his belt, but his feature-length resume (Child's Play 3, Lone Justice 2) isn't so impressive. Thus, a Jack Ryan movie realized under his supervision might have not felt very "cinematic," especially when compared to previous series installments (like The Hunt for Red October).
By comparison, Branagh's directing efforts - be it Thor, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, or any of his numerous Shakespeare adaptations - tend to be memorably big and brash (if not always good). Hence, Branagh should help to churn out a film about a younger version of the Jack Ryan character (as played by Star Trek's Chris Pine) that at least feels like an appropriate globe-trotting thriller, with regards to the scale and scope of the plot mechanics.
Speaking of the actual plot for the Jack Ryan series reboot: that's somewhat of an unknown right now, thanks to the numerous rewrites the project has endured. The original script draft is said to have followed Mr. Ryan (working as a Wall Street financial advisor) on a whirlwind adventure, after he travels overseas to Moscow to work for a mysterious billionaire - and ends up being framed for a terrorist plot against the United States.
The Jack Ryan reboot's script has reportedly been worked on by writers varying from Adam Cozen (who incorporated elements of his Blacklisted script Dubai into his draft) to Hossein Amini (Drive, Snow White and the Huntsman), Anthony Peckham (Invictus, Sherlock Holmes) and David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man). Hence, it's not really clear whether the film is more an action flick or dramatic thriller, in its current condition.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of the Jack Ryan reboot as the story develops.