Last Updated on September 27, 2021
John Patrick Ryan, Sr., more popularly known as Jack Ryan, is a fictional character created by celebrated author Tom Clancy. Jack Ryan has featured prominently in Clancy’s Ryanverse novels.
These novels have consistently topped the New York Times bestseller list for more than three decades. The novels have also been adapted into several Hollywood blockbusters, all of which star Jack Ryan as the main protagonist.
This post reviews the five most captivating movies starring Jack Ryan.
Jack Ryan’s Biography
Jack Ryan’s first major portrayal is as a retired U.S Marine and stockbroker who later spends his civilian life lecturing history at the United States Naval Academy (USNA). After a short stint at USNA, Ryan lands an analyst job at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He also works as an occasional field officer with the CIA, before rising through the ranks to become the organization’s Deputy Director.
Banking on his military and detective experience, as well as his solid academic background, Ryan is able to land a job as National Security Advisor and Vice President. A terrorist attack on the United States Capitol suddenly sees him become President of the United States. Ryan ends up serving two non-consecutive terms, during which he’s particularly noted for his tactful approach on foreign policy issues.
Jack Ryan is one of the few fictional literary and film characters ever to have outlived their creators. Although Tom Clancy passed on in 2013, his family granted permission to four other authors to continue the Ryan franchise as well as its other connecting series. The authors include Mark Greaney, Mike Maden, Grant Blackwood, and Marc Cameron.
Top 5 Jack Ryan Movies
5. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
IMDB Rating: 6.2
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a spy action film starring Chris Pine as Jack Ryan, a young, seemingly ordinary second lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. Although he’s easy to pass up as a regular executive, Jack Ryan has a wealth of detective experience up his sleeve, having worked secretly for the CIA for years.
Ryan was initially hired to crunch global data. However, he stumbles upon a carefully planned scheme by the Russians to destabilize the U.S economy through a terrorist attack, with a view to sparking global protests.
He seems to be the only person skilled enough to foil the imminent attack. But he will have to go against Viktor Cherevin, a ruthless wealthy terrorist mastermind.
Not only is Cherevin determined to raise hell in the United States. His mission also includes eliminating Ryan, who happens to be the only major obstacle standing in the way of his diabolical plans.
4. Patriot Games (1992)
IMDB Rating: 6.9
On March 20, 1974, a man suddenly opened fire on Princess Anne’s guard and driver in a daring attempt to kidnap the Princess. Were it not for the gallant efforts of a passerby who subdued the marauding criminal, Princess Anne would have been kidnapped and either released in exchange for a hefty ransom fee or executed. This real-life story inspired the beginning of the 1992 Jack Ryan film, Patriot Games.
In the film, Ryan (played by Harrison Ford) is an ex-CIA agent who impedes an attack by the Irish terrorist outfit Ulster Liberation Army (IRA) in London. He slays one of the bad guys in the process.
The deceased terrorist’s brother Sean Miller (Sean Bean) is arrested but mysteriously escapes from police custody. Still seething in anger, Miller vows to avenge his brother’s death. He travels to the United States, where he intercepts Ryan’s wife and daughter and subjects them to a grisly car accident.
Convinced that Miller means business, Ryan decides to rejoin the CIA with the sole motive of tracking Miller down.
3. The Sum of All Fears (2002)
IMDB Rating: 7.4
The Sum of All Fears is a 2002 espionage thriller movie adapted from Tom Clancy’s 1991 novel by the same title.
This movie documents a sinister scheme by an Austrian Neo-Nazi to spark a catastrophic World War III between the United States and Russia. The endgame is to have the Neo-Nazi establish a fascist superstate in Europe.
The threats of an imminent nuclear war escalate following the sudden death of Russian president Ciarán Hinds. It also emerges that a nuclear bomb in an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk jet that was shot down in 1973 in Syria has just been found and is now in the hands of terrorists.
And when reports emerge of missing nuclear scientists, it dawns on U.S intelligence agencies that the country might be under a serious threat of a nuclear detonation. Now, CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) must move with speed to uncover the faces behind this major conspiracy.
2. The Hunt for Red October (1990)
IMDB Rating: 7.6
The Hunt for Red October is a portrait of the glaring contrast between American and Soviet societies. That difference is aptly exemplified by the US and Soviet militaries.
In this suspenseful thriller, a rogue Soviet submarine captain, Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), abandons his orders and travels to the US east coast in his invisible stealth technology submarine called “Red October.” US intelligence briefly picks up Red October’s presence in the country.
The sub’s presence triggers panic across the US intelligence community. Since he abandoned his superior’s orders and traveled all the way to the United States, there’s a likelihood that Captain Marco Ramius is planning to defect to the United States. But chances are also high that the Russian might be planning an attack on U.S soil.
What follows is a frantic search for the submarine and its occupants, a mission spearheaded by CIA agent Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin).
1. Clear and Present Danger (1994)
IMDB Rating: 6.9
Agent Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is appointed acting Deputy Director of the CIA following Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones)’s diagnosis with cancer.
As Ryan tries to settle into his new role in the intelligence organization, an American businessman named Peter Hardin is murdered in cold blood, along with his family. The discovery of their death outrages U.S President Bennett who also happens to be Hardin’s personal friend.
Ryan sets out on a mission to find Hardin’s murderers. His investigations uncover clandestine links between the slain man and drug dealers.
As official investigations into Hardin’s murder are ongoing, President Bennett authorizes CIA agent John Clark (Willem Dafoe) to travel to Colombia and perform illegal operations against drug kingpins in retaliation for Hardin’s death. Now, Ryan finds himself caught up in the web of deceit and conspiracies. He must go undercover in a bid to figure out what actually happened that led to Hardin’s murder.
Jack Ryan has featured in over 20 movies so far. However, the above list is an excellent place to begin your search for the most sensational films starring this iconic crime buster.