Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Apr 16th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Ryan Game

film jackryanDurable Clancy hero back in diverting reboot 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'

Jack Ryan has more lives than Morris the Cat. The brilliant CIA analyst-turned-op, fictional hero of some dozen spy thriller novels by Tom Clancy, has also been featured in several high-profile spy movies of the '90s. Now the folks at Paramount have decided to give the character a face-lift (or should I say a youth potion) and trot him out anew for the next generation of audiences in the sleek, efficient thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

Scripted by Adam Cozad and David Koepp, this is an origin story that borrows elements from the well-known Jack Ryan canon, but updates and reassembles them for the modern world. The first bright idea was to cast Chris Pine in the role, an appealing young actor whose nifty balance of humor and intensity has already served him well playing the young Captain Kirk in the recently rebooted Star Trek franchise. But the producers' smartest decision was to hire Kenneth Branagh to direct; his epic sense of drama and full-bore theatricality keeps the story percolating along.The story begins in London, where visiting Yank, Jack (Pine) is doing graduate work at the London School of Economics when he's politicized by the events of 9-11. After he joins the Marines and volunteers for combat duty, an injury nearly cripples him for life and ends his active service career, but his stint in rehab not only nets him a new girlfriend, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), a doctor-in-training, it puts Jack on the radar of Navy commander Harper (Kevin Costner) of the CIA.

This all happens as prologue in a busy few minutes of film time before the title even appears onscreen. The main story begins a few years later with Jack deeply embedded as a Wall Street banker, covertly analyzing transaction data for the CIA to spot discrepancies that might suggest illicit funding for future terrorist activities. When certain anomalies do pop up that only someone with Jack's clinical brain would even notice, and his firm sends him to Moscow to audit the assets of its Russian partner bank ("Nobody else understands the data," a colleague points out), Jack's career as a mild-mannered desk jockey ends, and the thrill ride begins.

Director Branagh casts himself in the juicy role of Cherevin, a sinister Russian mastermind with a Napoleon complex who's plotting to destroy the U. S. by crashing its economy. (Although we wonder why he doesn't just sit back and let Wall Street do it on its own.) Alert viewers will also recognize ballet great Mikhail Baryshnikov in an uncredited cameo as a melancholy, yet ruthless Russian politico. Less useful is Knightley's Cathy. We understand why she has to be in the story, plot-wise (read: damsel in distress), but the couple's domestic squabbling at inopportune moments (she complains that he never tells her anything, yada, yada, yada) tends to slow things down.

On the other hand, the action is so fast and often complicated, we need the occasional breather. Branagh's vehicular chase scenes are fairly standard stuff, although accomplished, but he excels in smaller, personal moments of jeopardy and tension. An after-hours break-in to steal digital data is nerve-racking enough, but with the clock running out, Jack has to make convincing phone chit-chat with his office mates back home en route to getting a crucial access code from his boss. But the film's piece-de-resistance is an unexpected assassination attempt that goes on for long, breathlessly agonizing minutes of desperate hand-to-hand combat. ("You sold this to me as a desk job," Jack complains to Harper.)

This metaphorical blooding of Jack Ryan, from whiz-kid to activated field op, resonates throughout the film. Pine's Jack is resolute enough to rise to the physical challenges of the job, but he's still a geek at heart. The scriptwriters handle the inevitable moment of exposition when the convoluted international banking scheme has to be explained by inserting Costner's deadpan Harper—in lieu of the audience—urging Jack to simplify the details and cut to the chase. "Talk to me like I'm an idiot," Harper advises, and we all sigh in gratitude.

Costner continues to rehab his own career with his stalwart, no-nonsense turn here. Shadow Recruit is a diverting enough reboot while we're waiting for Hollywood to come up with more original material.


JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT ★ ★ ★ (out of four) With Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley ad Kenneth Branagh. Written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. A Paramount release. Rated PG-13. 105 minutes.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Aries Solar Festival

Sunday is Palm Sunday. Symbolizing victory and triumph, paradise, sacrifice and martyrdom, the Pisces World Teacher entered Jerusalem (City of Peace) on a donkey (signifying humility).

 

Sugar: The New Tobacco?

Proposed bill would require warning labels on sugary drinks Will soda and other saccharine libations soon come with a health warning? They will if it’s up to our state senator, Bill Monning (D-Carmel). On Feb. 27, Monning proposed first-of-its-kind legislation that would require a consumer warning label be placed on sugar-sweetened beverages sold in California. SB 1000, also known as the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act, was proposed to provide vital information to consumers about the harmful effects of consuming sugary drinks, such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas.

 

Animal Magnetism

Bear, mouse dare to be friends in charming ‘Ernest and Celestine’ It’s not exactly Romeo and Juliet. It’s not even a romance, although it is a love story about two individuals separated by prejudice who find the courage to form an unshakable bond despite the rules and traditions that keep them apart.

 

Printer's Devil

Iconic editor Buz Bezore, who died last month at the age of 68, left a huge mark on Santa Cruz journalism   Eventually, it’s all a blur. You live long enough, and maybe a little too hard at times, so that when you hit the rewind button of faded memory, it moves so fast that you can hardly sort and gather the details. One scene skips to the next, and to the next, without proper editing or sequencing. Chronologies get distorted. Which came first: stealing the chickens or coloring the eggs?
Sign up for Tomorrow's Good Times Today
Upcoming arts & events

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Yan Flower

Yan Belleville has owned Yan Flower, an affordable Chinese restaurant in Downtown Santa Cruz, with her husband Raymond for eight years, and it’s a family affair. Her brother, sister, sister-in-law, and cousins work there too. Locals know the joint for its massive lunch specials starting at $4.

 

How would you feel about a tech industry boom in Santa Cruz?

I feel like it would ruin the small old-town feeling of Santa Cruz. It wouldn’t be the same Surf City kind of vacation town that it is. Antoinette BennettSanta Cruz | Construction Management

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Comanche Cellars

Pinot Noir 2010 I first tasted Comanche Cellars Pinot when a friend brought a bottle to share over lunch at Center Street Grill in Santa Cruz. Upon trying it, I knew I had to find out more about it.