No matter how bad your day is, you can always comfort yourself with the fact that it will never be as bad as the day of an international spy. No threats of world domination, no one shooting at you or crashing into your car, no mistrust destroying every relationship in your life. For Jack Ryan, though, that’s a typical Tuesday.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an original story based on characters created by Tom Clancy, and it shows how Jack got into the spy business. Is it an asset of fun or does it deserve to be redacted? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here.)
So who stars in this movie? Jack Ryan is played by Chris Pine, known for his roles in Star Trek Into Darkness, This Means War, and Rise of the Guardians. His boss, Thomas Harper, is portrayed by Kevin Costner, who has also starred in Man of Steel, Dances with Wolves, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Kiera Knightley is Jack’s love interest, Cathy Muller; past movies include Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3, Pride and Prejudice, and Anna Karenina. And the villain, Viktor Cherevin, is played by Kenneth Branagh, famous for Hamlet, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Valkyrie, and Othello.
Branagh also directs this movie, and his past directing credits include Thor, As You Like It, and Hamlet. Personally, I really enjoy his directing, because he knows how to tell a story. My favorite comparison comes from watching the commentaries of Thor and Captain America back to back. While the makers of Captain America pointed out every CG element down to a spot of blood, Branagh explained all the film’s different aspects and how he used them to focus on the story. As for his acting, it can sometimes be a bit hammy, but it’s always fun to watch. And he has a Russian accent in this film. Enough said.
The trailer starts out with Jack Ryan calling headquarters. “I have a situation,” he says. This turns out to be the understatement of the century, since an assassin shoots at him and tries to strangle him. Jack finally smashes his head against a sink, and we cut from this apparent flashback to dinner with Cathy. “Was work okay?” she asks. “Uh, yeah,” Jack replies. You know, I get assaulted by big black guys every day.
“You sold this as an office job,” Jack complains to Costner. Granted, I should have been suspicious when I saw “All Sales Final” on the receipt. Costner remains calm, saying, “Talk me through your very scary scenario. Keep in mind I don’t have your PhD.” Well, in layman’s terms, we’re all gonna die. “Tokyo, London, United States. It’s gonna be a wipeout. We’ll never see it coming.” Except that Jack clearly does see it coming since he knows it’s going to happen.
Costner hands him a gun, telling him, “You’re not just an analyst anymore.” Wait, you expect me to believe that an analyst could win a fight with George Forman the assassin? Even Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol didn’t expect me to buy that much. What was Jack’s last job? Oh, that’s right, it was captaining a starship. Anyway, Jack tells his girlfriend he’s going to Moscow. “Why don’t you want me to come?” she asks. “Because I’m going to be working the whole time,” Jack replies. And why would I want anyone to come home to after work every night? That’d just be silly.
We are then introduced to the villain, who, appropriately enough, is blowing something up. “Americans like to think of themselves as direct,” says Branagh. “Maybe you’re just rude.” “Maybe you’re just touchy,” Jack retorts. Hey, it’s rude to call people touchy! But the situation takes a turn for the worse when Cathy follows Jack to Moscow and apparently infers from his gun that he’s been lying to her for three years. They argue for a few seconds, and then Jack asks Costner, “Can we have a minute, please?” “No,” says Costner. “This is geopolitics, not couples therapy.” Take notes, Jack. This is how you should have handled that situation between Spock and Uhura.
“Partnerships are delicate, Mr. Ryan,” says Branagh. “Sometimes they end violently.” Speaking of which, I hear you’re engaged to be married. How’s that going for you? Costner adds, “Sometimes the ones closest to us are the ones we should trust the least.” And sometimes that’s called paranoia. We see Cathy having dinner with Branagh and Costner aiming a sniper rifle at Jack. Then Costner says, “We all have our secrets.” Well, I’ve never heard that line from a spy movie trailer before (cough cough Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol).
As we move into the trailer’s action montage, Branagh asks, “You think this is game, Jack?” Actually, it is. I just like using helicopters as target practice. “They will bring us to our knees without even firing a shot,” says Jack. Except for, you know, all those shots they fire in the trailer. And that’s not counting the stabbings, garrotings, explosions, and car crashes. Costner points out that “There’s a very real scenario here where we don’t get out of this alive.” I vote we go with a different scenario. And the trailer ends with Jack almost falling out of the back of a van and Costner asking, “If you find the truth, will you believe it?” If I don’t, this movie’s ending is going to be really depressing.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend the movie? Yeah, I’d say so. It’s got a great cast, a good director, and a lot of fun, fast-paced action. Keep in mind that there will probably be a lot of violence and language in this movie since so much showed up in the trailer, so it’s not for younger audiences. But for older teens and adults who enjoy a good international espionage thriller, I’d say it’s probably worth a look. Will I see it? Not in theaters, but I might check it out when it comes out on DVD. In the meantime, I’m going to ponder the irony of a man from Northern Ireland playing a thick-accented Russian.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is owned by Paramount.