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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

In the latest Jack Ryan movie, Ryan, as usual, saves the United States. First he does it in Moscow, a city he's never been to before but seems completely at home in, then in New York. The plotting relies on a lot of coincidences, saves which come in the nick of time, and lucky breaks.

In one early scene, young Ryan, played by Chris Pine, who weighs maybe 170, overpowers and drowns a 300 pound Ugandan professional killer. That's one of the more realistic scenes.

Then again, this is an adventure film, in which such outcomes are standard fare.

Surprisingly, given the weak plot, the dialogue is actually pretty good, though the best lines are given to Kevin Costner, as Ryan's CIA boss, and Kenneth Branagh, as the Russian bad guy.

Costner has never been a great actor; he always pretty much plays himself. But that persona is good for certain roles, and this was one of them.

Branagh, now that he's middle-aged, looks intelligent and tough, and can affect a grim enough expression to play a passable villain:

(Branagh directed the movie as well.)

Keira Knightley is as beautiful as ever playing Ryan's girlfriend/fiancee, though she is constantly pushing her mouth out the way she always does; I guess she thinks it makes her more attractive:

At one point, Branagh, intent on seducing Knightley, says, we could make chitchat, or we could talk. When she subsequently says something devastating to him, he replies, "Now we're talking." (I'll have to remember those lines.)

The character of Jack Ryan is essentially Rambo crossed with Sherlock Holmes, so he ought to be played by someone who appears at least smart or tough, preferably both. The young Alec Baldwin was good in the role.

Chris Pine makes a game effort, but unfortunately, he looks neither smart nor tough. He looks more as if he just stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue. (He was probably better cast as a drag queen in Surrender Dorothy.)

I was struck by his resemblance to Denise Richards:

Richards was once cast as a nuclear physicist in a James Bond film; a lot of critics made sport of that at the time. Pine-as-Ryan is no less egregious.

Despite all of which, the movie actually isn't bad. It's fast-paced, there's plenty of action, and there are some good lines.

If you're good at suspending disbelief, you'll enjoy it.


Spychiatrist said...

I thought Costners role in JFK was good. Especially the courtroom scenes.

Some very lengthy and complex dialog going on there. I always wonder how many takes it takes to get those kinds of scenes down?

John Craig said...

Spychiatrist --
Haven't seen JFK. Yes, it must take some memorization; word must get around among directors about which actors are good at that and which aren't.

Spychiatrist said...

I wonder what the average IQ for most actors is.

Does IQ correlate to the ability to memorize things or is it more analytical in nature? Actors are definitely good at memorization. My guess is that the average actor must be above average intelligence?

I'm a dullard, so these things fascinate me.

John Craig said...

Spike --
You're no dullard, and false modesty does not become you.

From what I've seen, IQ and acting ability don't seem to have a high correlation. (And by acting ability, I'm talking about the ability to "disappear" into a role, not the ability to memorize lines.) A lot of the greatest actors, DeNiro and Depp among them, come across downright dumb in interviews. They're inarticulate, they hem and haw, and what ends up coming out of their mouths is often PC pap. Of course there are actors like Dolph LUndgren, too, who was supposed to be brilliant (160 IQ, offered a scholarship to MIT) but who was an incredibly wooden actor who relied entirely on his looks. As far as people in that profession's average IQ, I have no idea.

Most IQ tests measure analytical ability more than memory, but memory is definitely one component of intelligence.