Saturday, January 25, 2014


Durable Clancy hero back in diverting reboot 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'

Jack Ryan has more lives than Morris the Cat. The brilliant CIA analyst-turned-op, fictional hero of some dozen spy thriller novels by Tom Clancy, has also been featured in several high-profile spy movies of the '90s.

Now the folks at Paramount have decided to give the character a face-lift (or should I say a youth potion) and trot him out anew for the next generation of audiences in the sleek, efficient thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

Scripted by Adam Cozad and David Koepp, this is an origin story that borrows elements from the well-known Jack Ryan canon, but updates and reassembles them for the modern world. The first bright idea was to cast Chris Pine in the role, an appealing young actor whose nifty balance of humor and intensity has already served him well playing the young Captain Kirk in the recently rebooted Star Trek franchise.

But the producers' smartest decision was to hire Kenneth Branagh to direct; his epic sense of drama and full-bore theatricality keeps the story percolating along.

The story begins in London, where visiting Yank, Jack (Pine) is doing graduate work at the London School of Economics when he's politicized by the events of 9-11. After he joins the Marines and volunteers for combat duty, an injury nearly cripples him for life and ends his active service career, but his stint in rehab not only nets him a new girlfriend, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), a doctor-in-training, it puts Jack on the radar of Navy commander Harper (Kevin Costner) of the CIA.

Director Branagh casts himself in the juicy role of Cherevin, a sinister Russian mastermind with a Napoleon complex who's plotting to destroy the U. S. by crashing its economy. (Although we wonder why he doesn't just sit back and let Wall Street do it on its own.)

The action is fast and complicated, and the metaphorical blooding of Jack Ryan, from whiz-kid to activated field op, resonates throughout the film. (Read more)

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