Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Screenplay by Adam Cozad & David Koepp
Based on characters created by Tom Clancy
Starring: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh
Jack Ryan (Pine) went from the dangers of Afghanistan to an office in New York, all in the service of the United States government. After time in the military, Ryan is working for the CIA as an analyst. When his work hits on something big, Ryan goes from analyst to agent immediately. Now Ryan is working to prevent a major catastrophe that could affect the United States and the rest of the world.
Tom Clancy’s character, Jack Ryan, has translated from novels to films a number of times going back to 1990’s The Hunt For Red October. Since that first film Ryan has found his way onto the big screen in Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears. These many versions of Ryan were portrayed by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. These films allowed for the characters to be re-invented for each cast, and this 2014 film is no exception. This time the cast includes Chris Pine (Unstoppable) in the title role, Kevin Costner (Man of Steel), Keira Knightley (Love Actually), and Kenneth Branagh (My Week With Marilyn). In addition to his role in the film, Branagh also directed this film. The screenplay came with inspiration from Tom Clancy and the new ideas of Adam Cozad and David Koepp (Carlito’s Way).
The acting is pretty good this time around. I’m not the biggest fan of Chris Pine, but this is easily his best performance. Without the expectations of being “Captain Kirk”, Pine was able to really create his own character. I was also happy to see a great performance from Kevin Costner, one of my personal favorites. The film also has good performances from Branagh and Knightley. The rest of the cast is unfortunately forgettable, something that seems to happen often in action flicks like this one. The work from those actors isn’t bad, but the story isn’t written well enough to make them stand out.
Like most of the “blockbusters” coming out, this story is a reboot of a popular character. The writers did a great job making the story relevant to today’s audience including the way the characters were presented. The action and adventure are ever-present throughout this movie, taking advantage of the expectations of the audience. Unfortunately, the story also seems to avoid taking any big risks. It’s not terribly predictable, but once the twists and turns have occurred it’s easy to see how easy it was to make those choices. I think the failure to take risks took this film from great to good.
The visuals in this one are pretty great. The camera work and visual effects really take advantage of the major moments in the film. Unfortunately, this film also falls a bit flat with their stunt work. Due to the story, the stunt work doesn’t push the action very well. I think some opportunities were missed to “wow” the audiences.
This is a good film. It has a good story and some really good acting to benefit from. There are some weaknesses, but I still enjoyed this one from beginning to end. If you’re looking for a complex film with intricate twists and turns this might come up a bit short. Otherwise, this should be perfect for fans of the other films featuring Jack Ryan. I would also recommend this one to fans of the stars. I give this one 3.9 out of 5 stars.