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Kenneth Branagh Offers Himself Villain Role In New ‘Jack Ryan’ Film Opposite Chris Pine, Unsure If He’ll Accept

Kenneth Branagh wants to hurt Jack Ryan

When news first broke that Paramount would be bringing Tom Clancy‘s adventurous accountant, Jack Ryan, back to the big screen few people were all that thrilled. The character’s three previous incarnations (across four films) struck some as a series of diminishing returns creatively and a box-office flat line. But hey, even Ben Affleck‘s turn in The Sum of All Fears collected just under $200 million worldwide, and Paramount isn’t stupid enough to let go of a built-in audience.

As long ago as 2008 word was that Sam Raimi would be helming Ryan’s return, but news and interest seemed to dry up shortly thereafter. A year later Chris Pine enlisted for the lead role, but the film seemed no closer to production. Earlier this year though Kenneth Branagh tossed his hat into the ring and signed on to direct. Would that finally be enough to get this thing going?

Per Variety, Branagh is moving forward and has even gone so far as casting the lead villain to play against Pine’s heroic CIA analyst. Following in a long-standing Hollywood tradition he’s gone ahead and hired a British thespian to play a Russian bad guy.

That’s right. Branagh has apparently offered himself the role. And after presumably much deliberation, Branagh has accepted.

Pulling double duty on a film is something he’s done a few time before with him both directing and starring in Dead Again, Peter’s Friends (both underrated) and several William Shakespeare adaptations. He’s already proved himself capable of playing a truly vile villain with his turn in Wild Wild West Rabbit Proof Fence, and he may also be craving the opportunity to do a Russian accent after his recent voice work for a BBC Radio4 serial adaptation of Life And Fate let him bring the book’s Russian scientist to life without one.

The new Ryan adventure, unofficially titled Moscow, is an original property not based on an existing Clancy novel, and as of yet there’s no official start date. I think we can all agree that Alec Baldwin’s turn as Ryan in The Hunt For Red October remains the character’s highpoint while Harrison Ford did a fine job playing Harrison Ford playing Jack Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. And Affleck, well, he had a rough stretch there for a while didn’t he? Where Pine will fall in the rankings is anyone’s guess, but at least we’re one step closer to finding out the answer.

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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