Monday, January 27, 2014
Clear and No Surpises--Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Chris Pine stars as the titular character, and he has enough charm to definitely make Jack likable. But he's more fitted to the cocky swagger of Captain Kirk than the humble Marine turned Wall Street compliance officer that Jack Ryan is in this "reboot" of the so-called franchise. We first meet Jack as he witnesses the 9/11 attacks from London, where he's attending their School of Economics. Deciding to become a Marine, he gets deployed to Afghanistan to fight for his country. Events transpire that cause him to become a hero, and people take notice: most notably Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner, in full-on mentor mode) and Dr. Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), his rehab nurse who gets all googly-eyed at his quick progress.
So begins this reboot, minus any significant excitement that the viewer got from Bond's reboot in Casino Royale or Batman's in Batman Begins. We flash-forward 10 years, and Jack is working under cover on Wall Street for the CIA, trying to decipher terrorist activity through stocks, companies and numbers. He soon finds enough information about some peculiar transactions, and he gets sent to Moscow on what turns out is his first operational mission, complete with assassins, constant surveillance and a loaded handgun.
These first couple of months of the new year are usually the cinematic dumping grounds, where studios drop off films without originality or wit to die. Occasionally, viewers can come upon a surprise: but Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit surely isn't it. The cast and director Kenneth Branagh (who has the skills--he directed the first Thor) do fine with the standard script, but the lack of major excitement and the absence of any thought-provoking views make this Jack Ryan a film that won't be remembered a few months from now. (C+)