Hollywood has been adapting Tom Clancy’s techno-thrillers for three decades-plus — with a handful of familiar faces playing the famous character of Jack Ryan, from Alec Baldwin to Ben Affleck. But how have critics on RottenTomatoes.com rated these adaptations?
“The Hunt for Red October” (1990)
Tom Clancy’s first big-screen outing pitted CIA agent Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) against a mysterious Russian sub commander played by Sean Connery. As the L.A. Times critic Sheila Benson wrote: “You may not be limp from accumulated tension when this hunt is over, but its cautiously upbeat global message leaves a satisfying glow and it operates with a crackerjack premise.”
“Clear and Present Danger” (1994)
In his second outing as Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford chases down a rogue CIA agent and a drug cartel. The New York Times’ Janet Maslin praises “another fast, gripping spy story with some good tricks up its sleeve, and with a much more economical style than that of Mr. Clancy’s best-selling novel.”
“Patriot Games” (1992)
Two years after “The Hunt for Red October,” Harrison Ford jumped into Jack Ryan’s shoes to save his family from vengeful IRA terrorists. “Much of Patriot Games is routine: good guys and bad guys running around with heavy artillery,” David Ansen wrote in Newsweek. “But at its best moments, (director Philip) Noyce and Ford snap the genre back to life.”
“The Sum of All Fears” (2002)
Ben Affleck took over the role of Jack Ryan in this attempt to reboot the franchise. “An implausible apocalypse without depth or resonance, a cartoon of international politics presented with no James Bond-like playfulness and with all the superficial realism money can buy,” Chicago Tribune’s Michael Wilmington wrote.
“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (2014)
This attempt to reboot the franchise, with Chris Pine as Jack Ryan and Kevin Costner as his CIA mentor, was pretty much DOA with moviegoers and critics alike. “This is the very definition of an OK thriller,” Richard Roeper wrote.
“Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse” (2021)
In this spinoff from the Jack Ryan-verse, Michael B. Jordan plays a Navy SEAL named John Clark who rescues a CIA operative in Syria. But critics were divided. “It’s a stolidly ’80s action movie, from its Russian villains to its third-act plot twist that can be seen from space, but it’s lucky to have Michael B. Jordan giving an actual performance in what could have been an even more generic shoot-em-up,” TheWrap’s Alonso Duralde wrote.