Shawn Ryan Will Adapt Tom Clancy’s WITHOUT REMORSE, Set in the Jack Ryan Universe

     October 20, 2010


In perhaps the best news of the day, Paramount Pictures has chosen The Shield creator Shawn Ryan to adapt Tom Clancy’s best-selling 1993 novel Without Remorse into a feature film. According to Vulture, Transformers scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci will produce the film along with David Ellison. The film is a means of establishing a new franchise for the studio, who recently sold their major Marvel titles to Disney.

Set in the Jack Ryan universe, Remorse tells the origin story of CIA operative John Clark (who figured prominently in other Clancy novels, most notably Clear and Present Danger) and his rise to prominence as a lethal government spy. The character was played by Willem Dafoe in the film adaptation of Clear and Present Danger, whilst Liev Schrieber briefly took on the role in 2002’s The Sum of All Fears. No word on whether this film will tie in with the previously announced reboot of the Jack Ryan series (tentatively titled Moscow), which will star Chris Pine (Star Trek). It’s also unclear if the film will carry over the 1970 setting of the novel, or if it will be a contemporary piece. The film is tentatively set for 2011. Hit the jump for more.

without_remorse_tom_clancy_book_coverTo say that I’m excited about this news is an understatement. I read Without Remorse nearly three years ago and have been an avid Clancy enthusiast ever since — I’m in the middle of Red Rabbit as we speak. Remorse is undeniably the author’s finest novel — taut, thrilling and violent, just the way we like ’em. Out of everything he’s ever done, I felt this was the one piece of his fictional writing that would perfectly transition to the big screen. Clark is a formidable character, one with great charisma and quite a lot of depth. His offing of the local drug cartel, utilizing nothing but a big ass hunting knife and a Snickers bar, is every noble man’s wet dream.

I’ve loved all of the film adaptations and admired what actors Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford brought to the table as Jack Ryan the younger and Jack Ryan the elder. Both did a commendable job in their respective roles, even if Baldwin inhabited the character more closely to the way I envisioned his novel counterpart.

There was no fourth film. Period.

The question is: how will Paramount handle the grittier scenes? With Ryan attached to write, one presumes he will bring the same realistic style featured in his popular television series The Shield. But what about the recompression chamber scene in which Clark (known as Kelly at the time) gruesomely (and memorably) tortures a drug runner for information, practically causing the man to implode? Will such scenes be omitted to accommodate a PG-13 rating? With the exception of Patriot Games, all of Clancy’s film adaptations have carried a PG-13 rating, which is ironic considering that the realism employed by Clancy to tell his stories is his biggest strength as an author, yet ultimately the first thing omitted from the stories during their transition from book to film.

I also question what Paramount and Ryan will choose to leave on the cutting room floor. In my opinion it makes sense to split up the novel in order to better accommodate the wealth of material within, especially the secret ops mission that takes place concurrently with Clark’s revenge mission against the Baltimore drug cartel. Such things should not be excised. I’m also not keen on the producers updating the story to fit a contemporary setting. Why not make a period film that segues into the “Ryanverse?” Hell, why not set the new Ryan series in the 80s where the character clearly belongs?

Whatever they decide to do, I think it would be killer to link this film with the reboot of the Ryan franchise. Call it “Jack Ryan Begins” if you will.

Does this mean Paramount will nix the idea of starting from scratch and go back to adapting Clancy’s novels?  What do you think?