Actor Chris Pine (Star Trek) follows the likes of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck, as the late Tom Clancy protagonist, Jack Ryan, in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.”
We find young Jack Ryan (Pine) studying at in the London School of Economics when America suffers the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers. The patriotic ex-marine, who is a fiscal analyst, is approached by a CIA spymaster played by Kevin Costner and recruited to help foil what appears to be an old fashioned Cold War assault on America. Not only are the Russians going to send our stock market tumbling, but they also have a physical terrorist attack on the homeland planned in their little bag of tricks.
Considering the glut of garbage that comes out during the winter months “Jack Ryan” is actually a pretty good movie with a lot of action. Pine does a good job pulling off the All-American Ryan role and Costner’s limited performance as the “lurking in the dark” CIA directive is believably shady. Keira Knightly, who plays Ryan’s needy girlfriend, is slightly irritating, but then comes into her own as the plot develops. Kenneth Branagh, who directs the film, has a great gig as a drug addicted Boris Badenov-like psychopath named Victor Cherevin.
When the Berlin Wall came down and we established a détente with the Russians, we did a great disservice to our spy movies. Now all we have is Middle Eastern terrorists to fill the bill. But with recent developments in the Crimea, we may have a resurgence of Russian villains making a come back. There is nothing like the good ole’ days.
Reviewer’s note: Alec Baldwin first played Jack Ryan in “The Hunt for Red October” – 1990; Harrison Ford followed up with “Patriot Games” – 1992 and “Clear and Present Danger” – 1994, and Ben Affleck starred in Clancy’s “The Sum of all Fears” – in 2002.
My Rating: 3 of 5 Russian Bears.