As with everything else this New Year, I join a long list of people who are promising to update their blog a lot more often. This will probably not happen, but hey, one can live in hope. So I am going to start this new year with another Random Musing - a place to jot down a few thoughts of a film I have just seen. This is not a place for deep analysis or a full review. Just a ragbag of pointers that you should take with more than a pinch of salt. I will try and avoid spoilers but if you're really, really eager about seeing it, read this after I've done, OK?
Jack Ryan - Shadow Recruit
- If there's any US character similar to James Bond then Jack Ryan may be it. With multiple actors (Baldwin, Ford and Affleck) playing him on screen and a mythology behind the character, he is the All American Do-Gooder reflected against Bond's rakish hero. But the character and films have always lacked the tongue-in-cheek quality of Bond (though this quality has mostly been disposed of in the Craig era)
-Indeed, this is a reboot in the vein of the 2006 Casino Royale in idea if not totally in spirit (though Ryan's 'first kill' is really reminiscent of Bond's in Royale). Here, Ryan is updated as a product of a post 9/11 USA though much of his back story is kept the same as the original stories and, indeed, forms the beginning of the film.
-Kevin Costner turns up in a Navy uniform. I kept wanting to go 'Don't trust him. Have you never seen No Way Out?'
- It's official - Russians are the bad guys once again. Thousands of Arab-American actors and Art Malik start looking for teaching jobs to make up for the loss of income.
-As the chief baddy, Kenneth Branagh does a Russian accent/speaks Russian which is more than Connery attempted in Hunt for Red October.
-Chris Pine and Keira Knightley do fine as Ryan and his Doctor girlfriend though Knightley becomes one of these 'superwoman' characters at a drop of a hat which smacks of lazy writing.
-There's one sequence which is particularly interesting post-Snowden and Prism revelations. Ryan tracks the bad guys by social security / social media / phone records. There's a real feeling that there should be a caption 'Brought to you by the NSA'. Indeed, I heard Bill Hicks in the back of my mind go ' Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control again....'
-All in all it's a rather workmanlike effort that's obviously there to kickstart a franchise. As the obvious blockbuster in between all the 'worthy' films of award season, it should do OK and I am sure Ryan will be back.
-Oh, and I swear that the guy who played Sinbad in Brookside has a small scene in the film. Anyone want to confirm if I being bonkers or not?