First Hit: Better than I thought it would be with a good story, believable acting, and the way suspense was created.
Carrying on the legacy of Clancy’s Jack Ryan character is a tall order. Just like carrying on the 007 story with different actors, it takes someone who can embody the spirit of the character, yet show us something and someone new. Daniel Craig has definitely moved 007 forward.
Here Chris Pine, just as he did with Captain Kirk, moved the character of Jack Ryan forward. As his mentor, Kevin Costner is excellent as Commander Thomas Harper. I loved his wry smile, direct commands and hands on engagement.
This is where this film excels. It wasn’t someone behind a desk giving commands from HQ to the lowly analyst (Now your Operative) it was a team of people letting Ryan be the lead, yet knowing he was fully supported by a competent team made it all work. Keira Knightley, as Ryan’s wife Dr. Cathy Muller, was really good and it was great to see her again in a film role.
Briefly, Jack, inspired by September 11th, joins the Marines to fight for the US. He’s super smart and although he’s been sending great intelligence to the Marine’s HQ, he’s doing a grunt role. He gets hurt and rehabs at Walter Reed Hospital where he meets Dr. Muller. Harper read Ryan’s reports and begins to recruit him into the CIA.
As an intelligence analyst he’s real good, and on a trip to Russia to do an audit of a client, he uncovers a plot to destroy the US (of course you would expect this from a Jack Ryan story). It is here that he becomes an operative. Just because we know the ending doesn't take away from the way we get there.
This is what makes this film very watchable, entertaining, and enjoyable.
Pine was an excellent choice for the Ryan role with his charming good looks, intelligence, and ability to be physical. Costner was great as the older, wizened, and veteran CIA operative in charge of the mission. Knightly was sublime as Ryan’s wife Muller. There was enough strong independence as well as intelligent support of her husband. Kenneth Branagh as Viktor Cherevin was particularly strong and I felt he clearly knew how to direct himself. Adam Cozad and David Koepp wrote a wonderful script based on Tom Clancy’s characters. Branagh did a wonderful job of creating suspense and excitement throughout the film.
Overall: This was a very entertaining film made well by strong people.