By Laurie Coker
At least three different actors have played Tom Clancy’s famed action hero Jack Ryan, and in the latest adaptation, Chris Pine (Star Trek) plays the title character. Admittedly, I don’t read Clancy novels. Pines, Ryan has all the good looks and muscle power necessary to play Ryan, but Clancy’s story, adapted by a plethora of screenwriters and directed by Kenneth Branagh, is so riddled with implausibilities and idiocy that I spent a great deal of time shaking my head. Regardless of a few exciting action sequences and a decent leading man, dull pacing and annoying improbabilities, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit falters.
Recovering war hero turned CIA analyst, Jack Ryan finds himself face to face with a devious Russian, Viktor Cherevin (Branagh), who attempts to crash the American Stock Market in a monumental way, beginning with a bomb and ending in a modern day devastating depression. Ryan, along with CIA Operative Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), must race against time to stop the plan and save the country. In addition to Cherevin’s staff and goons, Ryan’s fiancé (Keira Knightley) puts wrinkles in their efforts.
While my guest will disagree, I feel Pine might have made the ideal Jack Ryan, but the dialogue given to him, except for a few lines, seem silly and forced. Filmmakers miscast Knightley and frankly, someone needs to force feed that women high calories meals. She, or anyone like her for that matter, does not need to be that skinny – yuck, boo to size two or lower. I’ll save my body image rant for another time, but her skeletal appearance and poor American accent distracted me to no end. Costner, still handsome, but noticeably more “mature”, worked fine in one aspect of his character (boss, mentor), but in the other (field operative and sniper), he only serves to add to the annoyances in plot and realism. Finally, I’ll discuss Branagh and his character. I don’t know enough about a Russian accent to gripe, but I found Viktor cartoonish.
Ultimately, as far as Clancy adaptations go, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit isn’t the worst. Branagh’s direction and cinematography plays well enough, but I am guessing the read is better than the film and that Clancy’s characters seem more realistic there too. Maybe not – I could drive a car through the realism holes in the PG-13 rated Jack Ryan. From me it earns a C-.