January 21, 2014 by E.D. Walker
A few days ago I tripped off to see the new Chris Pine movie with a friend. Fun fact: Chris Pine was my fictional boyfriend before Tom Hiddleston. My friend suggested Pine still could be. They’re fictional, after all. I can have two fictional boyfriends right?
But enough about my fictional boyfriends! How was the movie?
Lukewarm praise, I know, and it wasn’t really bad. It was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend an hour and forty-five minutes. It just wasn’t…great. Although I WILL say that Chris Pine is a pretty good Jack Ryan. He does some great emoting with his gorgeous blue eyes as he kills people and chases Russian agents. Granted, I don’t have a huge amount of Jack Ryan experience. I really enjoy Harrison (my FIRST fictional boyfriend) Ford’s first outing in the role, Patriot Games and I saw the mediocre Ben Affleck outing, The Sum of All Fears. But I haven’t seen the other two movies. I will say that on a scale of Ford to Affleck, Pine falls in the middle skewing more toward the (really good) Ford side of things.
I think my issues with this film are more to do with the by the numbers terrorists are going to blow up X American city plot. I’ve just got terrorist fatigue in the movies, I guess. And…
SLIGHT SPOILERS BENEATH CHRIS PINE. IF YOU KEEP SCROLLING YOU WILL BE SLIGHTLY SPOILED!!!! Like milk the day before it turns…sPOiLEd
it’s ALWAYS NEW YORK! They always wanna blow up New York. I get that in this film they were trying to tie it back to 9/11 because that’s why Ryan gets into the spy game to begin with but just…geeze, guys there are other major American cities. And does it always have to be terrorists? Although this time they were Russian which felt very retro.
Oh! I did like this: The Russians actually speak Russian! All the time! And all their computers and keyboards are in Cyrillic! Thank you for not dumbing that down for us, Branagh. Another cool Russian thing is there was a fun cameo that made me gasp and do a happy clap in the theater. Which I will not spoil for you.
Another issue was the Keira Knightley character. Normally, I enjoy her as an actress, but I was so distracted by her American accent I had a hard time paying attention. It’s not a bad accent per se but she’s just irredeemably English in my head I think so watching her play American was jarring. Also, she and Pine had zero chemistry together. AND she was basically there to be a damsel who needs rescuing, which gives me a sad. I really wondered why she even took the part because it is pretty standard love interest fare. My guess is she wanted to work with Kenneth Branagh? *shrug*
Kevin Costner also felt a bit like the poor man’s Robert Redford. I wish Branagh had cast some lesser knowns who might have a had a bit of zest and interest on the screen. But then Branagh was pretty darn bland as the head Russian baddie so…I did like the Asian CIA operative but she had very little to do. And Colm Feore (Mr. King Frost Giant himself) was fun in his bit part as a clueless Wall Street guy.
But, to cap the negative part of this review, Chris Pine had really stupid hair in the beginning:
I know I sound like I hated the movie but it is very watchable and enjoyable. I guess I was just hoping for more. The first fight where Jack Ryan realizes he’s in deeper than he thought was excellent. Ryan has to kill someone and the filmmakers don’t pull punches (ha, pun). Not during the death (I appreciated how awkward it was. It reminded me a bit of the famous murder scene in Torn Curtain, which I suspect it was supposed to…) and not in the aftermath when Jack can barely keep his shit together. I loved that; I loved that they actually showed how fucked up he was after killing someone.
Actually the whole movie is a bit Torn Curtain–esque now that I think of it. With the Cold War feel, and the genius mathlete trying to be an active operative, and the fiance following him into danger–I see what you did there, Branagh!
I also liked that they filmed in Russia, which meant that for all the outdoor scenes everyone looked really fucking cold. (Kevin Costner’s nose was BRIGHT RED. It was awesome. And believable. Toronto =/= Russia after all.
Just do better on the casting next time, Branagh. You cast Tom Hiddleston as Loki; I know you can!
So, to sum up, competent film overall but falls short of greatness. Still, if you like action movies and spy capers and especially if you like Chris Pine I would recommend this. It’s good date movie fare or even if you just have a quiet afternoon and you want to hit a movie.
Overall rating: *** (I liked it) BUT **** for Chris Pine as Jack Ryan. I hope they do a sequel with him.