Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

When THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1990) opened in March 1990, my husband and I got a baby-sitter for our toddler and saw the movie on its opening night. I very much enjoyed it, except for a lingering regret that Jack Ryan wasn't played by Kevin Costner, who'd originally been rumored to star in the role played by Alec Baldwin.

It took nearly a quarter century, but I finally got my Kevin Costner-Tom Clancy movie! Of course, by now Costner's aged out of the Ryan role, but he has a terrific part as Ryan's mentor, Thomas Harper, with nearly as much screen time as Chris Pine, who plays Ryan. Immediately afterwards I described the movie as "Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, and all the toys!" Plus throw in a Shakespearean director-costar. This was a formula which worked for me, and I had a grand time.

I should make clear at the outset that I'm one of just a couple people in my family who hasn't read Clancy's books, so I'm not evaluating the film based on any sort of comparison to Clancy's original Ryan character. I also don't particularly care how believable the movie's use of technology might be in real life (grin). I'm approaching it solely as film entertainment, and I found it to be a thoroughly diverting hour and 45 minutes.

In this post-9/11 "reboot" of the Ryan series, Pine takes us briefly through Ryan's background as a grad student in London and his Marine Corps service, followed by a new job as a CIA analyst working on Wall Street. Along the way he also picks up a serious girlfriend, Cathy (Keira Knightley), a medical student he meets while undergoing rehab for a wartime injury.

Ryan notices something odd regarding trades by a Russian company his firm deals with and passes it on to a CIA contact. (Classic film fans will enjoy that the handoff takes place during a screening of SORRY, WRONG NUMBER at New York's Film Forum.) Ryan's Wall Street boss conveniently sends him to Moscow to audit the Russian company's records, and within minutes of his arrival an attempt is made on Ryan's life.

Ryan draws on his Marine training to overcome a bigger, lethally armed adversary, but one of the aspects I really liked about Pine's portrayal is that his hands shake and he sweats. His very real fear adds a touch of humanity and realism to the character, rather than making him a super-cool James Bond. The post-attack scene where he struggles to dial a CIA contact for help is memorable.

Ryan then meets his Russian adversary (Kenneth Branagh), shortly followed by Cathy's surprise arrival in Moscow. Cathy has no idea she's just jetted into the middle of a life-and-death battle with terrorists -- the scene where she learns her fiance's true occupation is compelling -- and the question is whether she, Jack, and Harper (Costner) will make it out of Russia alive and stop a plot against the United States.

For someone looking for an entertaining action film with appealing characters, this is your movie. I understand the initial box office returns have been disappointing, which is a shame; perhaps this is an action movie for viewers of a certain age, but I really appreciated watching characters I liked in a solid, well-told, and interesting story which wasn't over-the-top violent.

As Kyle Smith writes at the New York Post, it's smart, fast, and entertains. I'd love to see this film be the start of a new series.

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT was directed by actor Kenneth Branagh and shot by Haris Zambarloukos.

Parental Advisory: This film is rated PG-13 for violence -- which I found fairly restrained by modern standards -- and brief bad language. Compared to some films I've seen, this is a pretty mild PG-13.

One early trailer is here, and another is at IMDb.

Recommended as the perfect popcorn movie to counteract the winter doldrums.


Blogger DKoren said...

I am really looking forward to seeing this. Hunt for Red October is one of my favorite films. I also love Kevin Costner and Ken Brannagh so can't wait to kick back and go along for the ride.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Would love to know what you think, Deb! If you enjoy the actors I expect you'll probably have a good time like I did. :) Let me know!

Best wishes,

10:05 AM  
Blogger DKoren said...

Hi Laura - got to see it today! Quite enjoyed it. Really loved Kevin Costner, of course, though the rest of the cast was really good as well.

2:36 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older