I've been a fan of the Jack Ryan series ever since I've watched Harrison Ford in Patriot Games many years ago. I also made sure to read the book versions authored by Tom Clancy. I can't remember watching the films though that starred Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck. Perhaps, the role of Jack Ryan has simply been cemented in my mind as something that only Harrison Ford can do.
When I heard that another movie is being made and that Chris Pine is playing the lead character, I had my doubts if he can come up to par with Harrison. I think the only film I saw Chris in was This Means War, which was a lighter spy story with comedic highlights.
I am glad that Chris proved me wrong. He was great in this prequel! The story was about a young Jack Ryan who was still finishing his PhD when he was recruited by the CIA. Aside from great acting during the action scenes, I admired his capability to do drama especially the moments when he was undergoing physical therapy, after the action scene in the Russian hotel (not spilling a spoiler here), and when he was trying to save the woman he loves.
Kenneth Branagh was likewise excellent, not only as a director, but also as the story's villain. He convincingly portrayed the brilliant Russian oligarch, Viktor Cherevin, who would do anything, even the most evil deeds, for his country so that he can wreak havoc on the world's stock markets.
I moreover enjoyed Kevin Costner's performance as a CIA official who may appear very serious at times but who packs a subtle sense of humor in dialogues that delighted me in certain scenes.
Keira Knightly, who plays Jack's fiancee, Cathy, was not only pretty to look at; she was believable in her role as a woman who loves a secretive man and is confused about mixed signals in their relationship.
I've read from one of the press releases sent to me that the story is an original script drawn from the books as far as the history of Jack and Cathy goes. I think it was able to accomplish its goal of establishing the couple's love story, why they are perfect for each other, and how Jack came to be one of the best and unforgettable fictional CIA operatives of all time.
I appreciate how Chris described Jack Ryan the way Harrison Ford portrayed him: "This wasn't a man that was tied to ideology -- this is a man with a great internal moral compass who knew what right and wrong was. It's a man who would stand up for what was right and I love that," shared Chris. "I love the fact that he has an internal flag, that's what he goes by, and if it meant disobeying, he would do that. And I always think that's a definition of a hero that we all connect to more than anything else."
Watch this movie and witness a realistic film based on things that may actually be happening right now. As Chris Pine said in an interview, "We are in a new world where warfare and terror takes on many different forms and the financial system is complicated as it is that you would need a PhD to figure out what is going on." Good thing Jack Ryan has one! What they all go through in the story though is something that we would all wish won't happen in real life.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is released and distributed by United International Pictures through Solar Entertainment Corporation. It starts showing tomorrow, January 15, 2014, nationwide.