MATM’s Guests: Tom Clancy: A Tribute to the Master of Thrillers by Maged Ghoraba

Tom Clancy

If you are Techno-Thriller fan like me who is intrigued by military/spy gadgets, political conflicts and investigative plots based on a global scale, the name Tom Clancy shouldn’t be strange to you. Sadly, on October 1st 2013, the American author Tom Clancy passed away in his hometown, Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1989, I unintentionally crossed over into the world of Tom Clancy, not through one of his novels or film adaptations but rather through a video game. It was an 8-bit computer “submarine simulation” game called “The Hunt for Red October” based on his 1984 novel of the same name. In 1990, “The Hunt for Red October” was released as a movie, starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin and I was intrigued to see how that very difficult video game for my age looked on the Silver Screen. I was impressed and I was introduced to whole new genre of movies and stories, which instantly became my favorite. Alec Baldwin (fresh out of Soap Operas) played the role of Jack Ryan, Clancy’s main protagonist in most of his novels. Ryan is a CIA analyst, the American answer to James Bond but with less physical skills and more investigative analytical skills, you could say a mix between Bond and Sherlock Holmes. It was also the second time I watched Sean Connery giving a performance deserving an Academy Award. I became an immediate fan of Tom Clancy as a writer and started looking for his novels.

The Hunt for Red October Movie Poster

In 1992, another novel adaptation came to the Silver Screen; it was “Patriot Games” another addition to Clancy’s Jack Ryan series but this time Ryan’s role is played by Harrison Ford. This Jack Ryan leaves the Cold War and the Soviets to mingle with the IRA.

Harrison Ford reprised the role of Jack Ryan’s in the 1994 Box Office hit “Clear and Present Danger”, the third of Clancy’s screen adaptation. This time Jack Ryan is fighting corruption within his own government. The movie introduces another of Clancy’s spy protagonists, John Clark, played by Willem Defoe.

Clear and Present Danger Movie Poster

It wasn’t until 2002, when another of Clancy’s novels made it to the movie theaters; it was the “The Sum of all Fears” another quest in the Jack Ryan series, this time Ryan’s fighting nuclear armed terrorists. The movie was different from the novel due to the heavy emphasis of political correctness after 9/11 It was another Box Office hit, not highly praised by critics, yet good performances from Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan, veteran actor Morgan Freeman as the Director of Central Intelligence and Liev Schreiber as John Clark.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an upcoming thriller directed by Kenneth Branagh, called starring Chris Pine as Jack Ryan. The movie is not an adaptation of Clancy’s novel but based on characters created by him.

In 1995, Clancy made his way into the Television with the adaptation of his “Op-Centre” novel series into mini-series. It was produced by NBC but they didn’t quite capture the ratings that they hoped fitting for a Tom Clancy name, especially after the massive cinematic success of Clear and Present Danger. In 1999, another adaptation “Net Force” series made it to the Small Screen but it was a poor production that didn’t meet any commercial success or critical acclaim.

Tom Clancy Debt of Honor Cover

Tom Clancy was known for his technically detailed espionage and military science storylines. His novel “Debt of Honor”, tells of a crazed Japan Airlines pilot who flies into the Capitol building in Washington. He was often accused that his works function as an idea bank for terrorists or expose technical attributes in American military to the public. The 1995 assassination attempt on Hosni Mubarak was high in similarity to events written in “Clear and Present Danger” novel, and during a police crackdown on the culprits they found VHS copies of the movie.

Tom Clancy Splinter Cell

Surprisingly, nothing competes with Clancy’s rich record of literary works like his works in video gaming. In 1994 Tom Clancy founded Red Storm Entertainment, which was later bought by the French video gaming giant Ubisoft, which developed numerous games based on Clancy’s books and ideas. Some of the Blockbuster video game franchises bearing his name included Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, EndWar and Rainbow Six and the upcoming hyped online action game The Division.

I consider Clancy to be a literal inspiration as well as a great entertainer. Even if his works are not your cup of tea, it is difficult to deny his dedication and contribution to the craft. Rest in Peace, Mr. Clancy. Your legacy will live on.

Tom Clancy Tribute

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