In the last seven days there were four separate events about the film awards in the USA. Three were TV broadcasts, and one an announcement across all kinds of media. We started with the Golden Globes last Sunday, January 12th, which was followed by the Critics Choice Awards, the announcement of the Academy Award nominations, and then, the SAG/AFTRA awards on Saturday, January 18th. Is it possible that by now, you may be tiring from all these Award shows and news coverage? So, as a change of pace, let’s look at a film that likely won’t get any nominations or win any awards
Jack Ryan arrived in town, at your local cineplex, on the 17th. Finally. Every one on the planet had expected him on Christmas Day, but the suits over at Paramount, one of the producers AND the distributor in the USA, chose a far safer release date, January 17th.
I know what you’re thinking. Because of the winter weather, pro football playoffs, and the generally widely known fact that January has long been considered as a time when no one opens a film that has hopes of becoming remembered a few months later – so the film must be lacking.
I’m talking Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, and Kenneth Branagh. We all know the character Jack Ryan as he’s been a major player in numerous Tom Clancy books as well as having been portrayed on screen by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford twice, and Ben Affleck. This time, Pine stars as a younger Jack Ryan making this a prequel/reboot because when we first meet this young Ryan, he’s still in college, in post-graduate studies, in London, and he’s not in the CIA or any another government agency.
As the film begins, in London, the date is the afternoon of September 11th, 2001. Jack Ryan has just seen the bombing of the WTC in New York on the British telly. Shortly after that, in cinematic time, Ryan enlists in the Marines, and shortly after that – he is in a helicopter over Afghanistan that is shot down. He suffers severe traumatic injuries. He survives, but he needs a ton of therapy to master the art of walking again. His doctor (actually a med school resident) is a Cathy Muller. Keira Knightley has the role.
While Jack is involved in this physical therapy, he’s visited and recruited by Kevin Costner, as Thomas Harper, to work for the CIA, as an analyst, undercover, at an unnamed major Wall Street firm. Ryan will be looking for patterns, anomalies, unusual transactions, and trading that could be, might be, or would be a part of the planning and funding of terrorists activities.
There was a single humorous line at the meeting between Costner’s Harper, and Pine’s Ryan. Harper asks Ryan about something Ryan wrote, and Ryan responds with ‘How did you get a hold of it. That’s my Dissertation (Ryan is going for a doctorate). Harper smiles sheepishly, extending his arms to the sides, palms up – Jack, I’m CIA. Other than that – it was all business.
Well, now installed as a Compliance Officer on Wall Street, Jack Ryan discovers some secret accounts held at the firm by its main partner, the Russian, Viktor Cherevin, played by a dour and grim Kenneth Branagh. As expected, Ryan cannot gain access to all of the info. What he does figure out is that Cherevin is trading on the Currency exchanges buying up large amounts of dollars. So he tells Harper, and then his Wall Street boss. As expected, it’s time for Jack to saddle up. Moscow and Cherevin await.
There’s your set up. All the four major players have been introduced. It is a spy-thriller. But that’s as far as I’ll take you regarding what the film is about.