Making the Grades
Chris Pine is in the enviable position of heading up not one but two film franchises. In 2009 he took the controls of the Enterprise as a young James T. Kirk in the reboot of Star Trek. He and his crew followed up that adventure with another space exploit in Star Trek Into Darkness.. But now Pine has his feet solidly on Earth as Jack Ryan—a role played in the past by Harrison Ford (Clean and Present Danger), Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October) and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears).
In this origin story we meet Jack as a college student at the time of the Twin Towers bombing. In response to the attack, he joins the Marines and is seriously injured when his helicopter is shot down over Afghanistan. During his rehabilitation Jack is approached by C.I.A. agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). After perusing Jack’s service and academic records, the agency wants to recruit him as an undercover agent working as a financial analyst. When Jack discovers some questionable Russian accounts at his bank, he is sent to Moscow for further investigation. What he uncovers there is bigger than bank fraud. It’s a carefully orchestrated plot to bring down the U.S. economy.
The Jack Ryan character was created by Tom Clancy, who died in October 2013 at the age of 66. Clancy had a knack for developing tense situations and dramatic action, mitigated by humor. In the hands of director of Kenneth Branagh (who also plays the movie’s villain Viktor Cherevin), this version of Jack Ryan is no different. Within moments of arriving in his hotel room in Moscow, Jack comes under fire from someone who guesses he not just there to audit the books. Later Jack tries to maintain his cool while asking for an access number from his superior back in the U.S. His boss wants to chitchat, unaware that Russian thugs are descending on Jack like a pack of starving wolves.
The biggest distraction to his work however may be Cathy Mueller (Keira Knightly). They first meet when she is working as a medical student in the rehabilitation facility where Jack is sent to recover. Eventually they move in together. But because they are not married, Jack can’t reveal his real occupation. Cathy senses he’s not being upfront about everything and suspects it’s an affair. Dashing off to Moscow to surprise him, she soon finds herself caught up in a conspiracy involving Viktor Cherevin and his sleeper cell in the States.
While Jack’s burned body as a soldier may be the most graphic injury, the film also depicts point blank shootings, explosions, beatings, stabbings and wild car chases. One character is also kidnapped and briefly tortured. Yet, for older audiences, this Jack Ryan reboot offers plenty of action without blowing up the entire eastern coast.
Hoping Pine will earn the same success as he did in the 2009 Star Trek, Paramount Pictures has a lot riding on this new Jack Ryan. And with any luck, the actor will soon find himself out of the shadows and basking in the limelight of another successful remake.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
Why does Cathy tell Jack to wait two minutes before he takes his painkillers? What are the dangers of prescription drug use—especially for patients suffering from extreme injuries?
One character says that regrets can pile up around a person like unread books. Can a person live a life without any regrets? What regrets, if any, do you have?
What are the challenges of playing a character that has been portrayed by many other actors, such as James Bond or Superman? What do you think of Pine’s version of Jack Ryan?