When the technology fails you, sometimes you just have to go old school in order to get the job done. That adage is true in all walks of life, but especially in the spy game where keeping your wits about you could simply be the difference between life and death. In advance of the recent release of "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" on DVD, Blu-Ray, On Demand and Digital Download, I got the chance to learn this first hand as I hit the streets of Los Angeles to learn surveillance techniques from some of the best security specialists and ex CIA operatives that the industry has to offer.
Tradecraft is a term that comes up often in these scenarios and it refers to the wide variety of techniques used to gather intelligence. Participating in a seminar run by security specialist Luke Bencie who is the Managing Director of Security Management International, LLC we got a firsthand glimpse at the methods and techniques used in surveillance ranging from the high tech to the simplest of ways to track a target and gather information.
I can tell you first hand that even on a fun exercise with no stakes involved, surveillance is a stressful racket. I was sweating, nervous and very and I mean VERY aware of my surroundings from the second we were sent off on our mission but I found myself at least outwardly managing to stay very composed. Jack Ryan as a character is so great because he also shows these weakness but still kept it together in the face of things going very wrong.
When I got the chance to sit down with ex CIA operative Martha D Peterson, author of "The Widow Spy" and former Director of the National Clandestine Service Michael J Sulick I got to ask them about those kinds of moments in the field where you HAVE to rely on a level head and stay calm in order to stay alive and they had this to say.
Martha D Peterson: Well we have a lot of training and we do a great deal of role playing in order to try and anticipate scenarios that may very well happen in the real world. And while some of that is from our training, a lot of it is just about gaining confidence in what we are try to accomplish and what we learn as we try to get there. Ultimately, we learn how to control our emotions and learn how to handle situations as they come us because when you are in the field, the old adage of "Murphy's Law" is a very real thing to deal with(Laughs)
Michael J Sulick: That's why I love the part in film when he forgets where the meeting place is because he is so flustered. It is realistic and it is true to life, yet he finds away to get back into the game and ultimately does. I feel like in other movies that would have just been glossed over and they would have made the character into this infallible super spy.
It is such an intense business that much like the movie business can require an incredible amount of preparation. I also got the chance to sit down with up and coming star Nonzo Anozie who plays evil thug Embee Deng and has a critical fight scene with Jack Ryan about the preparation for this huge scene and if anyone accidentally leans into the moment a little too much when they are making this intensely physical moment.
Nonzo Anozie: Quite a bit of preparation went into that scene. We had three weeks of rehearsal on that particular scene because our director Kenneth (Branagh) knew that he wanted to get in really close and see our faces while we were fighting, so we had to make sure that it was all going to be safe when we did it. We filmed it over two days and I really think that the work we put in shows.
Dave Voigt: We're there any moments you guys had to apologize to each other for leaning into the action just a bit too much?
NA: (Laughs) There was actually a moment during the sequence when we run towards each other and fall into the tub where I ended up breaking one of Chris' (Pine) fingers which was of course really, really painful. He actually ended up with a spiral fracture on his finger and no one knew until he went for an x-ray because he continued on for the whole day and at worse we thought it was a sprain but he is one tough guy.
It's always fascinating how much we gravitate to these types of stories over and over again in pop culture and modern storytelling, so I decided to ask some who took direct part in the process and he had this to say.
NA: There's just something believable about it all because this guy isn't a super hero by any means. It's just an average Joe who really does just happen into some of these circumstances but with the right training, natural skill and a bit of luck these guys end up getting their man and saving the day and we as an audience love relating to that.
At the end of the day, we love movies like "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" because they allow us to enjoy that rush of adrenaline of having to survive using only our wits, from the comfort of our very own home. Many of us don't know what to do when the power fails or we can't get a Wi-Fi connection, but live through the eyes of a character who just adapts anyway he can, and as long as they keep making stories like this, we'll keep lining up to see them,
"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray, On Demand and Digital Download from all major retailers and providers.