REVIEW: JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT

CAST

Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Keira Knightley (Domino)
Kevin Costner (Man of Steel)
Kenneth Branagh (Dunkirk)
Lenn Kudrjawizki  (The Transporter Refueled)
Alec Utgoff (San Andreas)
Peter Andersson (Underworld: Blood Wars)
Nonso Anozie (Game of Thrones)
Colm Feore (The Chronicles of Riddick)
Gemma Chan (Transformers: The Last Knight)
David Paymer (Drag Me To Hell)
Karen David (Batman Begins)

Kevin Costner and Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Jack Ryan (Pine), studying at the LSE (London School of Economics), becomes a U.S. Marine second lieutenant fighting in Afghanistan, where his spine is critically injured when his helicopter is shot down. During a lengthy recovery back in the United States, he attracts the attention of Cathy Muller (Knightley), a medical student helping him learn to walk again, and Thomas Harper (Costner), an official with the CIA who recruits him.Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)Twelve years later, Ryan is working on Wall Street covertly for the CIA looking for suspicious financial transactions that would indicate terrorist activity. When the Russian Federation loses a key vote before the United Nations, Ryan notices that the markets do not respond in the expected way. He discovers that billions of dollars held by Russian organizations have disappeared. A large number of these funds are controlled by Viktor Cherevin (Branagh), a Russian tycoon. Ryan’s employer conducts business with Cherevin, so when Ryan discovers certain accounts are inaccessible to him as an auditor, he has reason to visit Moscow and investigate. On arrival he narrowly survives a murder attempt by an assassin (Anozie) posing as his bodyguard. Ryan sends an SOS and is surprised to learn his backup is Harper. During their debrief, Ryan explains how Cherevin’s shadow investments could make the United States vulnerable to complete financial collapse following a staged terrorist attack, which would also weaken global markets.Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)At his meeting with Cherevin the next day, he is told that the problem company and all of its assets have been sold, thus preventing Ryan’s audit. Meanwhile, Muller, now Ryan’s fiancée, concerned he may be having an affair, secretly flies to Moscow to meet him. Against protocol for unmarried couples, Ryan reveals that he works for the CIA, to her great relief. Improvising on the situation, Harper has Muller agree to be included in a plan to infiltrate Cherevin’s offices. Ryan and Muller meet Cherevin at an upscale restaurant across the street from Cherevin’s office. Over dinner, Ryan causes a scene and purposely insults Muller. Excusing himself, he gains access to Cherevin’s office where he downloads critical corruption files.Keira Knightley and Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)Ryan and the CIA discover Cherevin used a falsified death certificate to place his son, Aleksandr (Utgoff), in the United States as a sleeper agent. Ryan uses his talent for pattern recognition to locate Aleksandr’s hideout and intended target, Wall Street. He locates a fake police response vehicle driven by Aleksandr and gives chase. After Ryan catches up and engages in a physical confrontation with Aleksandr, he discovers the bomb in the rear of the police decoy. Unable to defuse it, he hijacks the vehicle with Aleksandr in it. He later crashes it into the East River while simultaneously jumping out, as the bomb detonates, killing Aleksandr. Cherevin is executed by his co-conspirators in Russia. Ryan and Harper are called to the White House to brief the president.Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)It was Branagh’s energetic story-telling and Pine’s charismatic portrayal as Ryan that turned the potentially mediocre script around and created a really effective and entertaining spy thriller, successfully rebooting the character.

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REVIEW: THE SUM OF ALL FEARS

CAST

Ben Affeck (Batman V Superman)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
Bridget Moynahan (John Wick)
James Cromwell (Star Trek: First Contact)
Liev Schreiber (The 5th Wave)
Alan Bates (The Mothman Prophecies)
Michael Byrne (A Bridge Too Far)
Colm Feore (Gotham)
Ron Rifkin (Alias)
Ciaran Hinds (Game of Thrones)
Philip Baker Hall (The Truman Show)
Philip Akin (Highlander: The Series)

In 1973, during the Yom Kippur War, an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk jet carrying a nuclear weapon is shot down; 29 years later, a Syrian scrap collector uncovers a large unexploded bomb buried in a field within the Golan Heights. He sells it to a South African black market arms trafficker named Olson (Feore), who recognizes it as the nuclear bomb that was lost during the war. He then sells it to a secretive far-right cabal seeking to impose a fascist world order, led by Austrian billionaire and Neo-Nazi Richard Dressler (Bates). Dressler’s aim is to transform Europe into a united fascist superstate. He intends to start a nuclear war between the United States and Russia that will devastate them both.CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Affleck) is summoned by Director William Cabot (Freeman) to accompany him to Russia to meet President Nemerov (Hinds). In Moscow, Cabot and Ryan are allowed to examine a Russian nuclear weapons facility as prescribed by the START treaty, where Ryan notices the absence of three scientists listed on the facility’s roster. Cabot sends Special Activities Division operative John Clark (Schreiber) to Russia to investigate the missing scientists. Clark tracks the missing scientists to a former Soviet military facility in Ukraine, where Cabot suspects they are building a secret nuclear weapon that Russia could use without any way to trace it back to them.Ryan and his colleagues discern that a crate from the facility in Ukraine was flown to the Canary Islands, then sent to Baltimore on a cargo ship. Ryan warns Cabot, who is attending a football game in Baltimore with the President, about a bomb threat being in play. The President is evacuated before the bomb detonates, but the city is wrecked by the ensuing shock wave. To escalate the situation, a corrupt Russian Air Force general who has been paid by Dressler sends Tu-22M Backfires to attack a U.S. aircraft carrier operating in the North Sea.Ryan learns from the radiation assessment team that the isotopic signature from the nuclear blast pinpoints it as having been manufactured at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina in 1968; evidence which would seem to exonerate the Russians. In Syria, Clark tracks down Ghazi, one of the men who found the bomb, now dying of radiation exposure. He tells Clark that he sold the bomb to Olson, who lives in Damascus. Ryan’s colleagues at Langley infiltrate Olson’s computer and download files that implicate Dressler as the person who bought the plutonium and who is behind the Baltimore attack.

Ryan is able to reach the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon and get a message to Nemerov, saying that he knows that Russia was not behind the attack, while also asking Nemerov to stand down his forces as a show of good faith. Nemerov agrees to do so as President Fowler follows suit. The participants in the conspiracy, including Dressler, are later assassinated. Presidents Fowler and Nemerov announce new nuclear disarmament and counter-proliferation measures in joint speeches at the White House, as Ryan and his fiancee Dr. Catherine Muller (Moynahan) listen in.

If you love Tom Clancy and you’ve read  his books, you’re probably going to hate this movie. If you have never read the book, and have no real interest in Clancy’s work, you’ll probably at least enjoy it. If your like me, and you don’t mind films that let drama interfere with rationality, you’ll probably love it.