Posts Tagged ‘Tom Clancy’

Without a Tom Clancy novel backing him up, Jack Ryan falls flat on his face

jack-ryan-shadow-recruit-film-clip-a-serious-sniperBy Richard Crouse and Steve Gow Reel Guys – Metro Canada

Steve Gow is in for Mark Breslin

SYNOPSIS: Ex-Marine Jack Ryan is back on screen after a twelve-year break, but this time he looks like Captain Kirk. As played by Chris Pine (taking over from Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) CIA field agent Ryan discovers evidence of an upcoming terrorist attack. Leaving his suspicious girlfriend (Kiera Knightley) behind, he is sent to Moscow to continue the investigation by Intelligence boss Agent Harper (Kevin Costner). Dodging bullets and bad guys, he encounters Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) an evil businessman with a plot to destabilize the global economy.

Star Ratings:

Richard: 2 Stars
Steve: 2 Stars

Richard: Steve, Shadow Recruit is nothing fancy… and it’s also nothing Clancy. As the first of the Ryan movies not based on a Tom Clancy novel it feels quite generic. There is the usual intrigue and a couple of tense scenes but what the movie doesn’t have is the ear for dialogue of the other Ryan films. When you have a senior CIA agent muttering the line, “This is geopolitics, not couple’s therapy,” it’s hard to know whether this is a satire of spy films or just badly written.

Steve: It certainly wasn’t inspired writing, that’s for sure. I get the feeling the genesis of this film came straight from a money-angling producer who somehow decided to attempt reviving a 12 year old movie character like Jack Ryan would be better business sense than creative endeavor. The problem is, even if you look at the previous incarnations of the CIA operative – he’s pretty indistinct.  He’s no James Bond. And vanilla Chris Pine doesn’t add much to that blandness.

RC: True, but I really think that this is a case of a director with no affinity for the material. It’s almost as if the movie was pieced together by people who had seen a lot of spy movies, but didn’t really understand them. Add to that action scenes so frenetically edited it’s often hard to see through the flashes of light on the screen to see who is punching who. A little clarity in those sequences would have gone a long way to make up for the ridiculous dialogue and under developed characters.

SG: Absolutely. I had a hard time making sense of the action sequences since they were filmed with shaky handheld cameras and in what seemed to be extreme close-up. Perhaps filmmaker Kenneth Branagh was focusing less on direction and more on playing the Russian antagonist in the film, which he does effectively enough in spite of the formulaic dialogue. Keira Knightly too, in the pretty unremarkable role of Ryan’s unwitting operative wife is fine – although I’m not sure what her attraction to the part was.

RC: Knightley was fine, but I thought Branagh played Cherevin with all the nuance of a Bond villain. He’s ruthless, flamboyantly accented and super smart. Smart enough to bring down the global economy but not smart enough, apparently, to see through Chris Pine’s terrible drunk act near the climax of the film.

Steve: True enough. And that probably exemplifies this film’s biggest flaw. As much as the action is set at the pace of an over-caffeinated ferret, this thriller is pretty much boilerplate material with any subtle intricacies simplified for the sake of the neatly-capped plot. In the end, it’s a pretty plain spy flick that’s easy to unravel.

Chris Pine ready for duty as latest Jack Ryan recruit. Metro Canada – In Focus

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUITBy Richard Crouse In Focus – Metro Canada

In your mind’s eye when you picture ex-Marine turned CIA analyst Jack Ryan, who do you see?

Is he a dark-haired, suave six-foot movie star with a hot temper and a racy Twitter account? Or maybe a world-weary fellow with a scar on his chin and a resemblance to Indiana Jones? Or how about the Red Sox fan formerly known as Bennifer?

Created by writer Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan is the lead character in nine novels and the star of five films. This weekend we’ll see him uncover a Russian plot to destroy the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

Chris Pine, best known as Captain Kirk in the recently rebooted Star Trek series, is the newest member of the Ryanverse, and hopes to bring something new to the character.

“I can’t be Alec Baldwin,” he told Empire. “I can’t be Harrison Ford. I can only really do my own thing and stay true to the pillars of this character.”

Baldwin originated Ryan on screen in the 1990 high-tech thriller The Hunt for Red October.

The movie could have been the beginning of a James Bond-esque franchise for Baldwin, but he left the series after just one outing despite the film being one of the top grossing movies of the year. In a Huffington Post blog he says he was pushed aside for another actor “with much greater strength at the box office.”

Baldwin doesn’t name names, but Harrison Ford soon signed on, playing Ryan in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.

Author Clancy, who passed away in 2013, was not a fan of the Ford years. He thought the two movies dumbed down his original stories and thought Ford was too old to play the role. “Giving your book to Hollywood is like turning your daughter over to a pimp,” he said.

Next up was Ben Affleck, who took over in the 2002 prequel The Sum of All Fears.

“The day I received the offer to play Jack Ryan,” said Affleck, “I was filming a Pearl Harbor scene with Alec Baldwin. He was very sweet and said I should do it.”

The part’s originator has become the go-to guy with actors who sign up to play Ryan. When he was offered the part, Pine was shooting Guardians of the Galaxy with Baldwin. “He urged me to hold onto it,” said Pine, “and to attack it.”