Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy’s iconic CIA analyst who has undergone three previous castings, has gotten yet another makeover, and it’s a good one. Chris Pine, likely best known as Captain James T. Kirk of the Star Trek reboot that has captivated Trekkies everywhere, has taken on the role made famous by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck.
Reboots are the latest craze for Hollywood, which hinges its success on its ability to take an old, popular franchise, recast it with the hottest actors of the day, and update the storyline. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is no different, and it’s a snappy thriller that gives Chris Pine a chance to do what he does best – shine in an action-oriented role.
Pine has become a hot commodity lately, having exploded on the big screen in the Star Trek reboot. Small wonder, as he’s young, good looking, and has an earnestness about him that’s hard to ignore. He’s managed to make every role his own, and Jack Ryan is no exception.
This is another origin story, popularized lately by Hollywood. Here, we see Jack as a student at the London School of Economics who gets fired up with a hefty dose of patriotism after 9/11 happens. After nearly losing his leg in Afghanistan, he meets medical student Cathy, and sparks fly.
As Jack Ryan gets a makeover, the audience gains a new appreciation for Chris Pine, who with his earnest blue eyes and chiseled features has no problem in capturing attention. However, it’s not just Pine’s good looks that have audiences buzzing. He throws himself into the action, and he made no secret of the fact that he intended to do many of his own stunts during filming.
He has an electric chemistry with co-star Keira Knightley, who is as alluring as ever. Director Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the movie’s bad guy Viktor, is at his villainous best. As a director, Branagh gives Pine the chance to tap into his inner James Bond; the actor’s fight scene with a Moscow assassin is taut with action that is sure to set pulse rates soaring. As Ryan, Pine also stages a seemingly impossible escape from Viktor’s fortress. The audience can feel the palpable tension as he tries to escape undetected.
While Pine is certainly attractive, there isn’t anything incredibly remarkable about him – no significant scars or huge muscles – but there is a definite charisma that’s hard to miss. He’s at times laid back, at times pensive, but has been apparently tagged as the go-to franchise guy. It’s all but certain that Pine will be as successful in reviving the Jack Ryan franchise as he was in helping revive the Star Trek one. He’s a young man in his prime, and he gives Shadow Recruit all the punch he can muster.
Pine has rejuvenated Jack Ryan as the young, brainy analyst who goes undercover on Wall Street at Kevin Costner’s CIA director’s behest, and while Kevin Costner is no James Earl Jones, he brings a certain dry charm to the role. He’s a long way from his Oscar wins in Dances With Wolves, but there’s a snappiness there that many may not have expected from Costner.
In giving Jack Ryan a makeover, Pine has done a nice job of paying tribute to the late Tom Clancy and the character he created. This is a younger, fresher Jack, and audiences couldn’t be more grateful.
By Christina St-Jean