I'm retired, busy with volunteer radio and (with my wife) going to the theatre and enjoying 'fine dining".
Published January 20th 2014
Tired formula, high energy performances
We are now on the fourth manifestation of Tom Clancy's character, Dr Jack Ryan, and Kenneth Branagh takes over the reins as both actor and director.
The film fills in the back-story of how Ryan (Chris Pine) meets his trainee eye-doctor wife Cathy Muller, played by Keira Knightley. It speedily sketches in his economics studies, Marine career, back injury (enter aforesaid trainee doctor) and undercover CIA work as an investment banker.
And that is where the film and Clancy part company.
The plot is, in one sense, new. Ten years on Dr Jack Ryan, as he has become, discovers a Russian plot within a plot – a terrorist attack (but where and by whom) will undermine confidence in the mighty dollar, which will be further eroded by massive selling of Russian owned stock.
Ryan heads to Moscow, followed by his wife who fears that his trips away may be on behalf of an affair, and who is initially relieved when Ryan confides that he is in the CIA.
Enter Branagh. His portrayal of Viktor Cherevin is the highlight of the film – a spasmodic veneer of urbanity covering brutality, ruthlessness and lust for revenge. The scene between him and Knightley, where they discuss Russian literature and simmer with sexual innuendo shows us what two superb actors can do with such a scene, and a chemistry which had not earlier been displayed between Knightley's Cathy and Pine's Ryan.
The action is edge of the seat stuff – think "Die Hard", the Bourne franchise or some of the later James Bond movies. Or any number of other action films. That's its strength and its weakness. Apart from Knightley and Branagh, we've seen it all before – even if it is expensively and professionally done.