Quick Hit: Jack Ryan

We went to see the new Jack Ryan film today.

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It seems as though the franchise is being re-imagined for the modern age.  When we first meet Jack, he’s at university in London and witnesses the 9/11 attacks on television, and that’s what inspires him to join the armed services.  His chopper doesn’t go down over the Med like it did in the books; it goes down somewhere in Afghanistan.  He meets Cathy while she’s doing her med school PT rotation at Walter Reed.

I was engaged from opening credits to closing.  The action scenes were believable (and not too jarringly filmed).  There was enough background and supporting information to let us follow the story, but not so much that I ever felt like the writers thought I wasn’t smart enough to keep up.  I love the idea of positing Jack in a new timeline, and I was delighted with all the casting decisions.   Chris Pine is wonderful as Jack; he is able to pull off the strange trifecta of dorky analyst, ex-Marine, true-blue patriot.  Neither Kenneth Branagh nor Kevin Costner chewed up the scenes they were in; I was nervous about that – I’ve have a tendency to mistrust both men’s ability to get over themselves – but they played their characters with exactly the right amount of understated presence (and, in Branagh’s case, sleeze).  My only disappointment is that we didn’t get introduced to a Greer character; James Earl Jones’ Greer in Hunt for Red October is one of my favorites, both in the film and in the book.   The relationship that he and Ryan share over the arc that Clancy wrote across the various novels is emotionally complex, and I was hoping that, if this film is going to be the first of a series, we’d have gotten a chance to see the beginnings of that relationship in this film.

All in all, this movie was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.  If you’re in to this sort of movie, I highly recommend it

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