Entertainment Weekly has confirmed a report first circulated by Variety that Kenneth Branagh, fresh from being welcomed to the Paramount franchise machine with Thor, is in talks to helm its reboot of Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy’s super-spy yet kinda shitty dad. The studio has been trying to get a new Jack Ryan movie off the ground for a while now, beginning with selecting Chris Pine as the successor to a lineage of Ryan portrayers that includes Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. Unfortunately, Chris Pine has yet to climb to their level and fulfill the “rising star” pedigree assigned to him shortly after Star Trek, with the failure of This Means War proving that he’s not exactly a big box-office draw yet, even as an accessory to Reese Witherspoon’s latest romantic-comedy crisis.
That uncertainty led to the movie’s own, even less sexy crisis after Lost director Jack Bender dropped the project—most likely, as Vulture reports, due to clashes over David Koepp’s script, which has been repeatedly worked over to satisfy the various competing visions of the story concerning a young Ryan’s early years that is, even more confusingly, nevertheless set in present day. According to Vulture’s sources, producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (naturally) wanted a big, loud action movie, Paramount wanted a thriller, and even Pine got involved by demanding a “character-driven espionage movie”—all of which Koepp was asked to mash together. While Paramount is now supposedly happy with the revised script, they’re clearly not taking any more chances with their languished property and as-yet-unproven star by hiring Branagh to oversee them, motivated by his proven delivery of a blockbuster and his ability to work on projects that a million people have their own opinions about. Expect Branagh to commit fairly soon, as the film must start shooting in September or your wife and daughter will die.