If you’re interested in participating in the Geek Out Challenge, read this post here! Each day I will be posting a question for that day for the next 30 days. Follow along each day with your own post or feel free to wait until the entire challenge has been released and take it on when you like! Be sure to link back to the master post at the end or link back to each post for each day.
Day Ten: Favourite movie (or movie series)?
Always an interesting subjective question to tackle, without resorting to the moral authority position, there is a temptation to cast your favourite movie in its most purest form, free of imperfections and use it as a measure of competence against others that rise against it. I’ll always concede my favourite movie and movie series is a flawed presentation and realisation of the source material because I do believe in whatever arena you discuss and challenge each other you do need to have humility to identify and address flaws and contentions that exist. Is my favourite movie the perfect movie? arguably not, to suggest or say otherwise I feel is an attempt to mask your own imperfections and present an air of arrogance and hubris of your own perfectionism. To admit to enjoying a movie riddled with flaws exposes your own perhaps, to some that is terrifying, to others, the natural human existence. My favourite series was formed from two seperate film series with one central actor leading both franchise, the adaptations of the Tom Clancy novels Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger and the Presidential thriller Air Force One. The actor, Harrison Ford in his political film saga of films.
I’ll fully concede these movies aren’t strictly connected, but given Ford plays almost the same character beats and traits in both series, and arguably the character of Jack Ryan would go on to serve as President in the book series there is enough resonance between them I can come to peace with this.With Clancy’s flawed hero gaining a new audience and appreciation with his portrayal on the Amazon Prime series of the same name, it seemed apt to go back and show some new love to these original series of films. For me personally, it was Clear and Present Danger which really stood out as an accomplished and seminal title in my childhood.
I had enjoyed Hunt For Red October previously, and certainly an argument could be made here for its inclusion but I’ll fully admit to being a Harrison Ford fanboy here. Red October deviated in some ways from the book but did feel like a good adaptation with the main hero triumphing through intelligence and academia. With Patriot Games, it moved somewhat into familiar territory of the everyman attempting to protect his family. In Clear and Present Danger, there was a separation of this familial danger and it very much became the character I felt, as written by Clancy, a flawed intelligence analyst using his intellect and determination to resolve the situation at hand.
I enjoyed the new series on Amazon Prime, they served as a refreshing change to the palate in contrast to other action orientated shows. However, for me personally they didn’t do justice to the character of Jack Ryan as written and instead, attempted realign his character dynamics as the action hero first, the intelligence analyst second. Ryan isn’t the perfect literary character, as depicted in the Chris Pine remake and detailed in the book series, he is a former marine who was injured in a helicopter crash requiring extensive surgery. As a consequence, he transitioned to the academic path whilst also moving to serve in the intelligence community. Which is to say, the background and drive of Jack Ryan was never as an academic or to use a cliched line from nearly every adaptation, ‘I’m just an analyst’.
He was and is, but that doesn’t make him adverse to confrontation and adversity. For me personally, and I’ll fully concede this is a subjective standpoint, the Ford series got this tone just right, especially in Clear and Present Danger when he arrives in Colombia and is very much a ‘fish out of water’ in his appearance, mannerisms and actions. Whether intentional or not, his clothing and attire during the jungle rescue portion of the film stand out sharply to the special forces characters and very much looks like a politician or civil servant on a visit outside their usual hemisphere.
I enjoyed the fact as a character he struggles with technology, there is an entire sequence in Clear and Present Danger where he is attempting to hack a computer network to gain proof of the clandestine operations transpiring in Colombia. During this climatic sequence he struggles with a printer and loading tray, a familiar frustration to anyone who has worked in an office. Jack Ryan was not written as the perfect intellectual being, and in this series of movies he was shown to be a flawed character but one whose morality and convictions won over. Where I feel more recent adaptations have failed is to make him almost invulnerable and perfect in what he does, in the most recent Amazon series fully accomplished in infiltration missions whilst able to analyse intelligence and break down an entire conspiracy through phone logs.
It didn’t sit right and why I always hold these films up as my favourite movies and indeed movie series, it show cased the importance of morality and convictions, irrespective of the cost and consequence the important of doing what you know to be right. In Patriot Games, you understand Ford is acting more as a family man which by now is a known quantity in his acting ability, whilst it does the analyst aspect at times, for the most part he is a reactive character to circumstance around him. I enjoyed Danger as he was proactive in uncovering and following the information to its eventual cause at the top of Government in America.
In Air Force One, whilst not strictly or canonically connected to the Clancy series, character of the President feels very much an extension of the Jack Ryan persona. The everyday president determined to protect his family whilst standing true to his morals and convictions. The most heartbreaking moment of this movie comes towards the end when he succumbs to the threat of violence towards his daughter and bows to the demands of the terrorist, if only for a moment. It was just a humbling moment on screen as his voice cracked and whatever strength and belief he held washed away to protect the ones he loved, you understood and accepted from a character who had earned this moment of humility.
They aren’t perfect movies, suffering as ever from the curse of the modern contemporary era where technology unfortunately doesn’t age well, certainly in respect to the hacking scenes for example in Danger, the vehicles and aesthetic of London in Patriot Games or even the effects in Air Force One during the plane crash. But in the modern age where people grow bored with classical heroes such as Superman or Captain America who exemplify the American ideals and have no real flaws, people crave characters who overcome adversity and rise above their circumstance. Jack Ryan as portrayed by Harrison Ford was such an individual, showing you could use intellect over brawn, follow your convictions and triumph. What an empowering message to deliver to people.
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