By Noah Cohen, Daily Arts Writer
Published January 20, 2014
Talent alone won’t make a good movie. The gorgeous eyes of Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) and cultured past of Kenneth Branagh (“Henry V”) fail to make this production beautiful or clever. But watchable, yes. Chris Pine and his fiancé, played by Keira Knightley (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) keep attention focused on the characters, which is a merciful distraction from a script so riddled with cobbled-together throwbacks to secret agent tropes that even the chase scene feels like it could have come from any action movie, ever.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Rave and Quality 16
Branagh’s direction and acting pack a somber intelligence — out-of-place beside a plot which revolves around plugging a USB stick into a computer, thereby cracking a Russian financial database and stopping the next 9/11.
The movie’s tagline: “Trust no one,” suggests a level of intrigue absent from the script. The trailer runs a clip of Jack’s mentor, played by Kevin Costner (“Man of Steel”), scoping out Jack through a sniper sight — so you hoped this would be one of those movies where the main character gets inexplicably and decisively betrayed in midias res. Nope. Everything goes according to plan, start to finish; nobody can take down the Blue Eyes White Dragon that is Chris Pine.
Typical and to the point where it’s funny, the morality of a given character can be predicted with 100 percent accuracy by his accent. American English? Good. Russian? Bad. Other? Irrelevant. McCarthy would be proud. In equally laughable fashion, all unnamed characters are so cutely pointless; The entire CIA pegs Jack Ryan, convalescent financial analyst, as the only man capable of plugging in a USB stick, or really doing any groundwork whatsoever. This becomes especially strange when we see that the CIA has a whole goon squad in Moscow, none of whom get in on the action except Pine, and to a lesser extent, Costner.
A short roll of teenage fan fiction that somehow made it to the big screen under the cloak of Kenneth Branagh’s reputation, this 105-minute flick is a hiccup in several great throats. But like Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, Chris Pine came to Clancy on the up and up, and this career tripwire won’t stop the man.