Tom Clancy’s iconic character, Jack Ryan has been a part of the screens since the 90s. Since the 1990 movie The Hunt For Red October, a number of actors have played the CIA analyst and every actor seems to give his own unique style to Jack Ryan. While there was not much of Jack Ryan in the 2000s or early 2010s, we currently have a Jack Ryan Series to look at since 2018.
Here we will round up all the actors who played Jack Ryan until now and decide who played it the best on screen.
Alec Baldwin (The Hunt For Red October)
Alec Baldwin was the first to play Jack Ryan in this Cold War drama. While the movie seemed to focus more on Sean Connery as Ramius a Soviet Submarine Captain defecting to the US, Baldwin’s portrayal of Jack Ryan looks balanced as he tries to convince the authorities and preventing a nuclear war to erupt. His version showed the calm mindedness, his expertise, and the suspense as to whether he will be able to solve it or not.
Harrison Ford (‘Patriot Games’ and ‘Clear and Present Danger’)
Harrison Ford is currently the only one to play Ryan in multiple movies. The first movie Patriot Games(1992) showed a retired Jack Ryan foiling IRA’s attempt to attack the Minister of State for Northern Ireland. The story is far from over has he later finds his own family under threat as a revenge plot unfolds.
In Clear and Present Danger(1994), Ford returned as Jack Ryan who is now an acting Deputy Director of CIA. He tries to uncover a covert war being conducted by his associates against a Columbian drug cartel. Ford’s Ryan, in both the movies, is obviously older, but wiser as well. The second movie shows the character’s worldly experience well, thanks to Ford’s performance.
Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears)
The first three movies were in continuation, The sum of All Fears was a reboot to the series. The 2002 movie shoed Affleck as a younger, more contemporary version of the iconic character.
In this movie, Ryan is in his initial years as a CIA analyst who tries to take down an Austrian Neo Nazi who aims to start a war between Russia and the United States. This version keeps the calm and level headedness of the character in the previous movies, although portraying a younger Jack Ryan could show some anxiety or agitation.
Chris Pine (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)
In this 2014 movie, Chris Pine plays a young Jack Ryan who serves as a marine officer in Afghanistan and is later recruited by Harper into the CIA. Since then, he works undercover as an analyst at the Wall Street and discovers huge amount of money being held by Russian organisations, which could destroy the US economy.
What follows next is Ryan taking the bull by the horns and foiling the malicious plans of the enemy. Pine’s portrayal looks more in line with the character he was playing, since this movie was not a book adaptation.
John Krasinski (Jack Ryan TV Series)
Currently, John Krasinski plays the CIA analyst in the Jack Ryan TV Series. In the first season Ryan as an on-desk analyst dealing with his trauma from his years of service as a marine. He returns to the field and tracks down suspicious bank transfers, leading him to Suleiman, an Islamic extremist. The second season shows Ryan investigating transactions of Venezuela and enters into a political tug of war.
Krasinski’s depiction of Jack Ryan is initially inspired by Harrison Ford’s portrayal in the two movies. Like Ford, Krasinski’s version shows the action hero as well as the vulnerability of a human. Although we can se a bit of Baldwin, Pine, and Affleck too, Krasinski’s Jack Ryan is a lot more detailed and shows him well as an analyst and as someone on the field.
Who Played it The Best?
If we look at the performances, Ford certainly tops, with Baldwin being the runner-up. Baldwin’s character had only novels to refer to, making it naturally loyal to the books. Ford plays a different character based on the plot, which is not only loyal but also more polished than Baldwin’s portrayal.
But overall, the best performance goes to Krasinski. The reason is the advantage he gets playing Ryan in a series and not in a movie. It allows a lot more room to develop the character, the result of which is a more detailed personality of Ryan. Since the series is ongoing, the character would only evolve further with no limits.
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