Millions have read his books over the years, of course, but Tom Clancy’s legacy — which, let’s face it, should have been the title of a Tom Clancy book — probably doesn’t lie in the many best-selling thrillers he wrote about quick-witted, morally sound heroes and the relentless evil folks dogging them, but in the movie and video-game adaptations they inspired. In February, his best-known protagonist returns to theaters in Jack Ryan: Shadow One, with Chris Pine taking over the plucky character first portrayed by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990), then by Harrison Ford in Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), and then by Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears (2002). And seemingly every day brings a new release of a video game bearing Clancy’s name via the megasuccessful franchises Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, and Rainbox Six.
But which of the prolific author’s works or deriviatives is your personal favorite? My choice would have to be the 1992 movie thriller Patriot Games, which I’ve seen at least five times all the way through and many more times in piecemeal whenever I’ve noticed it playing on television. I can’t be the only one who, when hearing the name Sean Bean, conjures first an image not of Boromir from The Lord of the Rings or Ned Stark from Game of Thrones, but of Sean Miller, the tenacious Irish IRA terrorist hell-bent on exacting vengeance on Jack Ryan and his family. The movie also gave us one of Ford’s most Harrison Ford–y roles, providing him with no end of frantic moments, chastising stares, and variations on the “Get away from my family!” lines he growls so well.
Yet I also loved Sean Connery as a Russian submarine captain in The Hunt for Red October and have suffered bouts with a repetitive stress disorder from playing too much Splinter Cell. But what have I missed? And bonus points if you’re a megafan of The Hunt for Red October board game.