In a fairly positive review of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” Paramount’s latest reboot of Tom Clancy’s CIA hero, The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy reveals that this origin story depicts a young Jack Ryan (Christopher Pine) as inspired to serve his country by the September 11 Twin Tower terror attacks. Ryan’s first step is to quit college. He then enlists for active duty in Afghanistan:
Equally nationalistic is Jack Ryan, first seen here watching the attack on the Twin Towers while a student at the London School of Economics. Inspired to help his country, he’s soon in uniform serving in Afghanistan, where he has the misfortune of being shot out of the sky in his chopper, but the good fortune to be nursed back to health by a beguiling doctor, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley, complete with an American accent), with whom he takes up as soon as his treatment is finished.
There is a certain generation-spanning pleasure in watching veteran CIA handler William Harper (Kevin Costner, in low-key authoritative form) set Jack up as a financial intelligence analyst within a big Wall Street firm, where he spends a decade before being given five seconds to pack for his mission to Moscow.
Though that sounds promising, and Hollywood has certainly been less anti-American since Obama’s 2008 election, we will still have to wait and see how it is all portrayed. McCarthy does go on to describe Ryan as “the uniformed-turned-covert patriot.”
McCarthy also reveals that the villains are once again the Russians. Though the Cold War is long over, animosity still simmers and a plot is hatched by Russian oligarch Viktor Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh, who also directs) to launch a terror attack in Lower Manhattan with the blessing of the Kremlin.
If everything is as advertised, Clancy would likely be pleased. I’ve read that the late-author grew frustrated with Hollywood’s take on his creation, especially “A Clear and Present Danger,” which depicts an American president (who is modeled after Ronald Reagan — Clancy’s hero), as the story’s arch-villain.
After the 100% flop rate of Hollywood’s anti-American spree a few years ago, not to mention the ire Paramount faced for switching out Islamic terrorists for Euro-trash in 2002’s poorly received “Sum of All Fears,” returning Ryan to his patriotic roots is exactly the kind of make-up sex the studio should be offering fans.
Paramount recently released a box-set of all four of the previous Jack Ryan thrillers. I reviewed the set here.
“Shadow Recruit” opens Friday, January 17.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC