IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 105 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Jack Ryan is studying at the London School of Economics when he witnesses 9/11 and decides to become a Marine. When his helicopter is shut down in Afghanistan, he’s critically injured and hospitalised, but is nursed back to health. Thomas Harper, an official with the CIA, is impressed with Ryan’s ability to recognize complex patterns, and recruits him. Ten years later, Ryan is working on Wall Street with a cover job as a compliance officer at a stock brokerage, and as a covert CIA analyst, looking for suspect financial transactions that would indicate terrorist activity. When the Soviet Union loses a key vote before the United Nations, Ryan notices that the markets do not respond in the expected way. Trillions of dollars held by Russian organizations has “fallen off the radar” and there is so much money held out of view that the United States economy may actually be vulnerable to a sudden move. It seems that dark forces in Russia want to cause the US serious damage…
This is, amazingly, the second time Paramount has decided to reboot Tom Clancy’s hero, and I’m rather pleased it seems to be under-performing, because it’s by far the worst of the five [so far] Jack Ryan films. This is as soulless and generic a would-be blockbuster as you can get, a film made up of spare parts from better films but with hardly any life of its own as it rips off Casino Royale, The Peacemaker and a whole load of others. For God’s sake, if you’re going to re-use situations like where the hero is married and has to keep his job a secret, then at least try and put a fresh spin on them. Jack Ryan is quite clearly made for idiots with no attention span, as it rushes through its set-up at such speed that it feels like edited highlights from a much longer movie. The love story suffers worst in this respect as we go from Cathy helping Jack to walk to the two shacked up and engaged.
Of course once the film turns into an action movie said action is handled in the fast edit/ shakycam fashion that is contaminating modern cinema. The final third is so bad in fact that I’d barely call it a film, just some idiot waving a camera about, as with most of You’re Next. It’s terribly sad to see Kenneth Branagh sink so low as to indulge in this kind of crap, though the fault lies as much with the often atrocious cinematography of Haris Zambarloukos. There’s one scene when Jack is in a taxi and his driver points out the Russian buildings and says they look like “the top of a cake”. The problem is that the bloody camera is completely out of focus when it tries to show what he’s talking about. All you see is just a fuzzy blur! If you ignore all this, there is some meagre entertainment to be had with Jack Ryan, at least in the first two thirds, where there is sometimes a modicum of suspense of some scenes. It’s also fun to have a Cold War-type thriller again, though it just kept reminding of better movies. Amazingly there’s a natural performance for once from Keira Knightley, who usually looks like she’s acting, though Chris Pine is the uncharismatic piece of wood he usually is. It generally feels like they didn’t try much with this film, while parts of it are really bad and show an ineptitude in film-making that is sadly getting more and more prevalent.