Cherevin: You Americans like to think you are direct. Perhaps you're just
Jack Ryan: You
Russians like to think you are poetic. Perhaps you're just touchy.
of Jack Ryan was created by novelist Tom Clancy, to give us a smart action
hero of the late 20th century, a decorated combat veteran and elite black-ops
soldier and intelligent geopoliticist who's the kind of invincible hero we all
like to believe is actively protecting us, out there in the shadowy world of
CIA, spy stratagems, and covert missions. But the character needed some
updating, and to be thrust into the 21st century, so here is the "back
story" that propels Jack Ryan to the present and sets him up for sequels.
Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is studying at the London School of Economics, and
sees, on the television screen in the student lobby, the terrorist attack on
. It changes his life. He decides he needs to enlist in the Marines, and right
Next thing we
know, he's in a helicopter mission over
in 2003. The helicopter takes a hit from a surface-to-air missile, and Jack
Ryan has suddenly crash-landed, and has to be medically evacuated to a rehab
hospital. He barely makes it out alive. And now his most important mission is
learning to walk again,
But his work
has not gone unnoticed. Kevin Costner plays Thomas Harper, the CIA operative
who has not only noticed Jack's reports from the field suggesting new
strategies, he's also done his research, and knows Jack almost finished his
dissertation before he suddenly enlisted. So he advises Jack to finish his
rehab, go back and finish and his doctorate in economics, and then go to work
for his country: this time in a far different role. One that he would keep
hidden from everyone else. He would head to a big Wall Street investment firm,
and while there he would monitor foreign investment activity for suspicion of
covert terrorist operations. After all, it wasn't just about blowing up
things. Every terrorist cell, needs money, and a way to funnel it
Jack Ryan (who of course is also young, strong, and extraordinarily handsome),
winds up with Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), the attractive English doctor
who was in charge of his rehab, and has brought her to New York, where she is
now working in an American hospital. She's unaware of his
"extracurricular" spy activities, but she is beginning to grow
suspicious of his unexplained absences: she fears he is having an affair.
interesting that in 2014, the bad guys are the Russians again. As if the Cold
War never really ended, and they're the ones we have to fear, because they are
not only well-funded and focused, they are motivated by hurt pride, wanting to
restore the former glory of Mother Russia. Kenneth Branagh plays with cool
detachment the Russian mogul who is indeed masterminding a dastardly plot:
with a one-two punch: a staggering terrorist attack, in
New York city
, as a grand diversion, followed closely by a massive sell-off on the stock
exchange, sending the market suddenly into a plunging free-fall.
It's a clever
plot; one that will involve every ounce of resistance and counter-intelligence
that Jack Ryan can muster, along with all the American CIA operatives in
, who aren't officially there, of course. Even his beautiful fiancée is
unwittingly thrown into the vortex of this chaotic gambit.
As the clock
winds down and the action ratchets up, the viewer is carried along by the
rapidly-evolving scenario, as Jack Ryan and his well-trained cohorts try
desperately to foil the impending disaster. Sure, parts of it are unlikely,
but it's still enjoyable to watch.
And yes, at
the end, Jack Ryan is introduced to POTUS, as a foreshadowing of his own
inroads into the exalted corridors of
. Yes, this one is designed to fan the glowing embers of patriotic fervor, as
we root for the good guys to protect the interests of the good ol' U.S. of A.
realistic? Um, perhaps in part.
Is it a tale
well-conceived and well-told? Definitely.
Is it fun? You
Bring on the
Dr. Ronald P.
Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen's Presbyterian Church,