BY Jen T. Tuazon
It used to be that action movies were mostly made up of endless physical combat, elaborate explosions, and dizzying car chases. But as virtual reality has gradually lessened physical contact among us in the “real world,” movies—even action ones!—are now mirroring this change, as in the new spy movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit starring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, and Kenneth Brannagh (who also directed the film).
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is based on a popular Tom Clancy novel character Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst turned actual spy. (The movie though is not an adaptation of any novel by Tom Clancy, but is rather an all new modern day story, written by Hossein Amini, featuring the fictional spy.) The film follows Ryan’s (Chris Pine) journey as an aspiring Marines officer turned CIA financial analyst turned reluctant field agent who has to stop a Russian economic terrorist plot.
As Ryan is more of the intellectual type (he has a PhD from the London School of Economics!) and has in fact spent most of his career behind a desk, he is definitely no James Bond. And Pine was excellent in portraying a skittish spy unashamed to call for help in times of trouble, from faceless CIA agents miles away to his handler and immediate boss William Harper (Kevin Costner) to his own fiancee Dr. Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley). But, as Pine is Captain Kirk after all (Sorry, a Star Trek reference was inevitable) he pulls off a Jack Ryan who eventually finds his bearings and fights his own battles—both intellectual and physical. (Warning though: Pine’s piercing blue eyes are particularly distracting in this movie.)
The movie may not be as action-packed as one would expect from a typical thriller, but it compensates with scenes of strategy-plotting among the characters with the help of computers, tracking devices, and all other gadgets out there. Indeed, as more and more of our interactions take place online, fights, battles, and all other skirmishes may just similarly move from the streets to our computer screens—though maybe not completely, as the film still had its own share of man-to-man action, explosions, and yes, car chases.
Overall, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a decent effort for a modern-day spy movie. Fans of Jack Ryan (which have been played on-screen by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears) may welcome the original story, while new generations of moviegoers (and those who have never read the novels) may find the “techie” shift exciting in its own way.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, distributed by Paramount Pictures, opens in Philippine cinemas on Jan. 15, 2014.
For more upcoming releases, check our 2014 movie guides.