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Face Off: Alec Baldwin Jack Ryan vs. Harrison Ford Jack Ryan

Jan. 16, 2014by: Dave Davis
In last week's Face-Off, a pair of quirky and celebrated acting talents were tossed into the cage, and while Ryan Gosling definitely has his share of fans, most of you agreed that Joaquin Phoenix deserved the win.

This weekend, actor Chris Pine is the latest to take over the role of Tom Clancy's famous CIA analyst in JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT. And he's got some big shoes to fill, namely Alec Baldwin in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and Harrison Ford in PATRIOT GAMES and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (Sorry, Ben Affleck -- only got room for two. Maybe you'll face Pine in a future column).

So who's the top Jack Ryan?
Mission Parameters
In THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, Jack Ryan is convinced that a Russian submarine commander named Ramius wants to defect to America, bringing a top-secret experimental nuclear stealth vessel with him
In PATRIOT GAMES, Jack Ryan interrupts a terrorist attack on a British diplomat by a splinter IRA group, then finds himself and his family the target of the vengeful terrorists

In CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, Jack Ryan gets caught between a Colombian drug cartel and his own government's devious machinations, and personally goes to Colombia to rescue US soldiers abandoned in a secret operation
Major Obstacles
An Alfa-class Russian sub, captained by Stellan Skarsgrd

A cook
A group of terrorists led by Sean Bean (who, as you can probably guess, ends up dead)

Power-hungry cartel intelligence man Felix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida), aka "the Latin Jack Ryan"
Primary Accomplices
Jeffrey Jones, Scott Glenn, Courtney B. Vance, Sean Connery, Sam Neill, and James Earl Jones
James Fox, Samuel L. Jackson, Willem Dafoe, Raymond Cruz, and James Earl Jones
Wife
Gates McFadden, best known as Dr. Beverly Crusher on "Star Trek: The Next Generation"
Anne Archer, best known for being menaced by Glenn Close in FATAL ATTRACTION
Director
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER director John McTiernan was no stranger to big-screen blockbuster material, having previously put Arnold Schwarzenegger against an extraterrestrial hunter in the sci-fi/action classic PREDATOR, and then launching a whole new subgenre of action movies with DIE HARD
Before bringing Ford's Ryan to the screen twice, Phillip Noyce was best known for smaller movies like the acclaimed Nicole Kidman thriller DEAD CALM and the Rutger Hauer sightless samurai back-rack actioner BLIND FURY
Previous characters
Before THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, Baldwin was probably most recognized from WORKING GIRL, BEETLEJUICE and the primetime soap "Knot's Landing"
Before slipping on Ryan's CIA suit, Ford gave us two trilogies as a couple of the most iconic cinema heroes in history: Indiana Jones and Han Solo
Milius Connection
When Sean Connery was reconsidering the Ramius role because he felt there weren't enough speeches, filmmaker John Milius (RED DAWN, CONAN THE BARBARIAN), who had worked with Connery on THE WIND AND THE LION, was brought on board to punch up the actor's dialogue
John Milius wrote an early draft of CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, and was later responsible for adding the cartel ambush on the SUV convoy (a sequence that has supposedly since been used in government agency training)
Box Office
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER - Almost $200 million worldwide
PATRIOT GAMES - $178 million worldwide

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER - $207 million worldwide
Harrison Ford Jack Ryan
Okay, to be honest this really isn't much of a fair fight -- if Baldwin had an additional opportunity to play the character, this would be a pretty tight contest as his loose version of Ryan was engaging.

While Ford's movies obviously pulled in more bucks overall, he also brought franchise experience and his particular brand of gravitas to the role. I do think that THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER is the best of the three films, but Ford is the guy that most people probably associate with Jack Ryan, and for good reason. Good luck, Chris Pine!

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6:12PM on 01/16/2014
I like Ford's performance a lot, especially how he made the character different from Indy and Han Solo. But to be honest, I like Baldwin better in this role. Maybe it's because he's in the best movie, but I also think he plays the "non-action hero" feel of the character better.
I like Ford's performance a lot, especially how he made the character different from Indy and Han Solo. But to be honest, I like Baldwin better in this role. Maybe it's because he's in the best movie, but I also think he plays the "non-action hero" feel of the character better.
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4:06PM on 01/16/2014

How about "overall film quality"?

Red October is a much tighter film than either of Harrison's Jack Ryan entries.
Red October is a much tighter film than either of Harrison's Jack Ryan entries.
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11:22AM on 01/16/2014
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10:44AM on 01/16/2014

Harrison Ford

At one time I would have said Alec Baldwin, however Alec's very public lunacy has tainted perceptions of his performances. Instead of thinking about the characters he's portraying, all one can think about are his juvenile antics. It makes him wholly unbelievable as a potential Jack Ryan unfortunately.
At one time I would have said Alec Baldwin, however Alec's very public lunacy has tainted perceptions of his performances. Instead of thinking about the characters he's portraying, all one can think about are his juvenile antics. It makes him wholly unbelievable as a potential Jack Ryan unfortunately.
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10:29AM on 01/16/2014
Not even close in my opinion, Alec was the superior Jack Ryan.
Not even close in my opinion, Alec was the superior Jack Ryan.
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7:28AM on 01/16/2014

TIE

Man this is a tough one. First off, Box Office is a little unfair. I mean of course two movies made more than one movie. And Yes CAPD made 207mil to HFRO's 200mil, but that's pretty darn close. Anyway, Jedd makes a good point about the "non-action hero" thing, Baldwin definitely pulled off the "I wasn't trained for this" vibe better. And as a whole HFRO is a better film. But man Jack Ryan is still one of Harrison Ford's best performances, and he makes the character more relateable. I've never
Man this is a tough one. First off, Box Office is a little unfair. I mean of course two movies made more than one movie. And Yes CAPD made 207mil to HFRO's 200mil, but that's pretty darn close. Anyway, Jedd makes a good point about the "non-action hero" thing, Baldwin definitely pulled off the "I wasn't trained for this" vibe better. And as a whole HFRO is a better film. But man Jack Ryan is still one of Harrison Ford's best performances, and he makes the character more relateable. I've never been "undecided" on these vs. things before, but put me down for it now. It's a tie.
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7:11AM on 01/16/2014

Ben Affleck was also pretty good....

Batfleck was solid a Jack Ryan.
Batfleck was solid a Jack Ryan.
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10:36AM on 01/16/2014
I've played drinking games based on how awful Affleck's performance was as Jack Ryan.
I've played drinking games based on how awful Affleck's performance was as Jack Ryan.
7:51AM on 01/16/2014
What? o_O Affleck was horrible as Jack Ryan. It was embarrassing.
What? o_O Affleck was horrible as Jack Ryan. It was embarrassing.
+8
6:42AM on 01/16/2014
Hands down Harrison Ford because in Hunt for Red October Sean Connery was the star and Alec Baldwin was his costar.
Hands down Harrison Ford because in Hunt for Red October Sean Connery was the star and Alec Baldwin was his costar.
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5:51AM on 01/16/2014
Harrison Ford for me. He plays good Analyst/Action Hero Jack Ryan. However, like BillClay said, Alec Baldwin was actually very good as "I'm not field personnel, I'm only an analyst".
Harrison Ford for me. He plays good Analyst/Action Hero Jack Ryan. However, like BillClay said, Alec Baldwin was actually very good as "I'm not field personnel, I'm only an analyst".
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5:03AM on 01/16/2014

The Hunt is On

For me its Alec Baldwin, he played the, 'I'm not field personnel, I'm only an analyst' perfectly.

Actually how cool would it have been if he had continued through the evolution of the character. From analyst to President.
For me its Alec Baldwin, he played the, 'I'm not field personnel, I'm only an analyst' perfectly.

Actually how cool would it have been if he had continued through the evolution of the character. From analyst to President.
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+2
4:08AM on 01/16/2014
Harrison Ford was the best Jack Ryan. Clear and Present Danger was actually my favorite Ryan film.
Harrison Ford was the best Jack Ryan. Clear and Present Danger was actually my favorite Ryan film.
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4:00AM on 01/16/2014
I agree with Ford.
But what has 'previous characters' have to do with who is the best Jack Ryan?
I agree with Ford.
But what has 'previous characters' have to do with who is the best Jack Ryan?
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11:11AM on 01/16/2014
Because actors bring more than talent to a role: experience, public perception & recognition factor, baggage, bankability, etc.
Because actors bring more than talent to a role: experience, public perception & recognition factor, baggage, bankability, etc.
3:50AM on 01/16/2014
I always loved Ford as Jack Ryan, but Baldwin was really good too. Not a big fan of their successors (as Jack Ryan).
I always loved Ford as Jack Ryan, but Baldwin was really good too. Not a big fan of their successors (as Jack Ryan).
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3:24AM on 01/16/2014
I like Harrison Ford more on the whole but I think Alec Baldwin did the "non-action hero" thing better.
I like Harrison Ford more on the whole but I think Alec Baldwin did the "non-action hero" thing better.
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