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Tom Clancy introduces Jack Ryan prequel movie

Movie Title: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
PG-13, 1 hour 45 minutes

Grade: A-

In a Nutshell: Tom Clancy fans will love this prequel to the popular Jack Ryan save-the-USA stories. Chris Pine, with his beautiful blue eyes, joins the club of fantastic leading men who have brought this patriotic character to life: Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. I would have loved to see some short cameo appearances with those guys!

Sure, the film is formulaic: inexperienced CIA analyst uncovers an attack on the U.S. and is suddenly thrust into operative status as he dodges bullets, guided by a crusty mentor (played by Kevin Costner). It’s still a fun spy thriller that will get your pulse going as you yell “Hurry!” at the big screen.

Uplifting theme: Jack is wounded in Afghanistan in the beginning of the film, but finds two unexpected motivations to recuperate: Cathy and protecting his beloved country. I loved the look in his penetrating eye (one was swollen shut) as he was wheeled off on a gurney. It said so much about how this country felt after the 9/11 attacks. Meaningful motivation can push you beyond what you thought you could do.

Things I liked: Kenneth Branagh directs and plays a vicious Russian in the movie. He proves he can equally navigate Shakespeare and Thor. I liked that the setting is modern day and spotlights a very real threat of the collapse of the American dollar. Jack warns “They’ll call it the American crisis, but after six weeks, they’ll call it what it is…the second Great Depression.”

Things I didn’t like: I usually like Keira Knightley, but I just didn’t feel the chemistry between her and Chris Pine. She seemed a bit forced with her American accent. There is an obligatory car chase scene and many of the tense moments feature pounding at computer keyboards. One disjointed scene that annoyed me included a fight scene with Jack and Aleksandr in the water under the streets, but then suddenly they’re exchanging blows in a van moving above-ground. With all of the recent talk in the news of NSA spying, it’s interesting to see how quickly the field agents can gather intel and act on it.

Funny lines:
• “You weren’t kidding…you ARE in the CIA” states Jack. William Harper responds “Somebody has to be.”
• “This is geo-politics, not couple’s therapy.” – William Harper
• “You Americans like to think of yourselves as direct, but maybe you’re just rude.” – Viktor Cherevin
• “You Russians like to think of yourselves as poetic, but maybe you’re just touchy.” - Jack
• “The first night can be brutal.” = Viktor Cherevin after he tries to get Jack killed
• William Harper asks “Any way to get that Boy Scout look off your face?” Jack laughs “Not a chance.” Harper responds “Good. That’s what I like about you.”
• “He drinks, right?” Jack asks. The response: “Like a Russian.”
• “I’m in the C.I.A.” - Jack SPOILER ALERT: After surviving a frightening ordeal, Cathy sighs “Thank God.”

Inspiring lines:
• “Wait 2 minutes before you take that” counsels Cathy to her new patient Jack who wants some pain killers. When he asks “Why?” she inspires “So you know you can.”

Things to look for:
• Read the words on the movie screen when Jack passes the data on to a field agent in the dark movie theater for a symbolic undertone.
• The 360 degree camera pan while Jack is in the taxi after just arriving in Russia.
• The picture hanging in Viktor’s office. What is it? “The Battle of Bunker Hill”? Interesting choice, right?

Tips for parents: One F-bomb, but not that much other profanity. Lots of bloodless fighting scenes. Jack and Cathy are found in bed for a conversation only.

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