Progress on Paramount's planned start-over of the Jack Ryan franchise has been slow-going, thanks to rewrites, production stalls, and budget concerns. That resulted in onetime director Jack Bender leaving the project earlier this year, only to be quickly replaced by five-time Oscar-nominated actor/filmmaker Kenneth Branagh (some of you may know him better as the director of Thor).
Tom Clancy's CIA agent was previously portrayed onscreen by Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger), and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears). The Jack Ryan mantle is being picked up by Chris Pine for Branagh's film, which marks the second time Pine has signed on to portray a rebooted version of an iconic character (after Captain Kirk in Star Trek, of course).
Branagh's one of the rare actor/filmmakers who's as revered for his performance chops as he is for his behind-the-camera talents, having directed himself to Oscar-nominated turns in Shakespearean productions like Henry V and Hamlet. He's also done commendable work when collaborating with such directors as Woody Allen (Celebrity), Bryan Singer (Valkyrie), and Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) - we'll forgive him for his role in Wild Wild West - and that's part of the reason why Branagh has decided to cast... well, himself as the villain in his Jack Ryan reboot.
Heat Vision has the scoop on Branagh being in negotiations to play the antagonist in his own film (who wants to bet he'll work out a deal?). The central villain role in the Jack Ryan reboot is that of Viktor Stazov, described as a "financial wiz who, with the help of the Russian government, masterminds a plot to devalue American currency and thus destroy the U.S. economy." [We'll skip over any jokes about the current state of the U.S. economy.]
The Jack Ryan reboot explores the character's backstory, prior to his days working for the CIA (when he started off as a financial analyst). Hence, it has an advantage over, say, superhero franchise reboots like Amazing Spider-Man or next year's Man of Steel, as most people aren't so familiar with the "origins" of Ryan. Moreover, it's only partially based on Clancy's literature - and draws heavily from Adam Cozen's Blacklisted script Dubai - which moves it closer to being an original creation than something like this fall's Alex Cross reboot.
Couple that with Branagh pulling double-duty as actor and director, and this new Jack Ryan movie starts to sound more promising than it did just a year ago. If all goes according to plan, this could also be the film that firmly establishes Pine as a bankable player (outside of when he's wearing a Starfleet uniform, that is).
We'll keep you updated on the Jack Ryan reboot as more information is released.