Sunday, February 16, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

I've been really bad about posting anything lately.  Sorry  about that, just unmotivated and have other things on my mind.  Also have not been watching many movies lately.  Television series, yes, but not many movies.

I actually made it to the theater today to see the new Jack Ryan movie.  I read most of the books when they came out.  The Hunt for Red October, of course, had to do with submarines, so I read that one pretty much right after it hit the bookstores back in the 80's, and before the movie came out.  That hooked me, and I kept reading until Executive Orders.  That was the last Tom Clancy book I read.  Patriot Games and Cardinal of the Kremlin are my favorite of the Jack Ryan books.  The Hunt for Red October is my favorite of the movies made so far.  Absolutely love that movie.  Great cast, great score, great fun.  The filmed version of Patriot Games ranks in the other direction.  Hated that movie.  Still do.  I think it is my least favorite book-to-screen translation of all time, and that's pretty hard to do, particularly when I love the actors.  Although, I will freely admit, as much as I love Harrison Ford, he never worked as Jack Ryan for me.  I saw each of his Jack Ryan movies once in the theater... and have avoided them ever since.  I saw the Sum of all Fears film a few years ago and did like that one.  Not as good as Red October, but better than the Ford films.

Which brings me to the current film.  I found it quite enjoyable, (though nothing particularly special), and am glad I saw it on the big screen. The biggest draw on this one, for me, was the cast.  I am a huge, unabashed Kevin Costner fan. I first saw him in The Untouchables (which is one of the films I saw a jillion times in the theater when it was first released).  That movie introduced me to Kevin Costner and Andy Garcia, with Sean Connery's steady performance as a bonus.  After that, I looked for any movie Costner was in.  And I adored him in this movie. His character, Harper, was likeable, protective, and capable and it was a joy to see Costner both in a role like this and on the big screen again.  He really made the movie for me.   Ahhhh, Kevin Costner, how I've missed you.

Right behind him was Kenneth Branagh, who also directed this movie.  He played the bad guy, and he was nicely creepy and cold and a bit smirky.  He was delightful, and I was equally glad to see him on the big screen again.  I'm probably showing my age that I went to see this movie for Costner and Branagh, not the young guys and gals. 

Not to knock Chris Pine.  He was really good and I would definitely watch him as Jack Ryan again.  Liked him far better here than as Kirk (no surprise there, given how much I loathe the Star Trek reboot movies).  He would be my second favorite Ryan behind Alec Baldwin.  Kiera Knightly as Cathy was also very likeable and I have no problems with her either.  They made a great team, and I loved the dinner scene between Branagh and Kiera.

I was also really REALLY delighted to see Mikhail Baryshnikov show up in an uncredited role.   I loved White Nights and always wished he'd done more acting.  He made me grin and grin.

I do have to admit, I sort of didn't pay much attention to the details of the story.  Unusual for me, plot-lover that I am, but really, whenever the characters started talking about secret accounts and plans to crash the dollar... well, I hate economics, hate stock market stuff, and so... yeah, I tuned out.  There were some nice action sequences and fights.  My favorite was the attack on Ryan in the hotel room, which just really worked well for me.

One of the things I loved most about this movie was the fact that the rest of the CIA (and FBI) was not portrayed as stupid just to make Jack Ryan appear smarter.  There are movies and television shows that suffer from this type of bad writing, and it drives me crazy.  This movie, I'm delighted to say, was the opposite.  Harper and his team, the agents back home, etc. are all smart, efficient, and supportive.  They all do their jobs and they're all at the top of their game.  I can't tell you how much I loved that.  Jack Ryan is able to do his job, only because that phenomenal team is behind him feeding him intel and running interference, etc.  What a breath of fresh air!  I loved Harper's whole team in Russia.  They rocked.  And I love how Ryan is stunned and amazed that the CIA could clean up and restore his room after it's destroyed.  And having them smart and quick-thinking did nothing to take away from Ryan's own analytical skills.  It complemented and enhanced it instead.

I'm rather sad to say that Patrick Doyle's score was quite serviceable, but unmemorable.  I was really hoping it would be something I'd want to rush out and buy on CD, as I'm a big fan of his, but alas, no.

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