JACK RYAN Family Movie Review3 min read

The cinematic landscape is so full of heroes that I didn't realize just how much I've missed CIA analyst Jack Ryan. Tom Clancy's humble, patriotic, intelligent protagonist isn't as flashy as Bond or as burdened as Bourne, but that's precisely what makes him so appealing: he's relatable. I worried that this reboot, whose ad campaign has focused on the types of fights and stunts inherent to other espionage franchises, would lose Ryan's heart and soul. The casting of Chris Pine, who's brought a type of cocky charm to his roles in Star Trek and Unstoppable, further indicated that the studio was trying to cash in on a brand without much thought about the character.

I needn't have worried: Pine is great and the film maintains Ryan's intelligence, courage, and meekness, even if it does make him a bit more of an action hero and less of an everyman than he's been in the past. The story, not based on any of Clancy's novels, is a new origin tale for the character, tracking his rise from college student to war hero to analyst. Soon Ryan is in over his head in a Russian plot to cripple the U.S. economy.

Kenneth Branagh pulls impressive double-duty here. As director he nails the balance between keeping the pace moving and making us care about the characters, although the action could have been more clearly shot and edited. As the villain he keeps the audience on their toes with a performance that is at once ruthless and frail, sympathetic yet frightening.

Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride and Prejudice) offers a credible American accent, good chemistry with Pine, and enough intelligence to be more than the token “love interest/damsel in distress” so often found in these films. Between this and Man of Steel, I'm glad to have Kevin Costner back on the big screen. His focused work here suggests that he's not taking this comeback opportunity for granted.

The screenplay stumbles a bit towards the beginning; relationships are not strongly defined and plot details
get hazy, but everything snaps into focus about 30 minutes in. There are moments of truly impressive tension here and some agreeably smart storytelling. The inevitable “action-packed finale” is thrilling, even if it leans a little too heavily on coincidence and action-hero physics to match the more realistic film tone proceeded it. Also, religious observance here is shown as a practice of the villains only (a far too-popular Hollywood trend). Still, this is a solid action film that relies as much on storytelling and character as it does on stunts and fights. Jack Ryan is back, and I'm excited to see what the franchise has up its sleeve.

CONTENT OVERVIEW: Jack Ryan- Shadow Recruit is rated PG-13. It has one f-word and a handful of moderate profanities, but not a steady stream of foul language. A woman is seen in a bath towel. It is mentioned that a villain has a weakness for married women. An unmarried couple lives together; he proposes one morning while they're in bed, covered by the sheets (the scene is tender, not erotic). There is some drinking and plenty of violence. A man is stabbed in the stomach, another is drowned in a bathtub, there are several fistfights, and numerous people are shot.

MESSAGES TO DISCUSS: We are morally justified to forcefully defending ourselves and others from attack if we're given no other choice (see Alma 48:13-14; Nehemiah 4:13-14). Sometimes couples without the Gospel live together outside of marriage. We should not judge them (see Matthew 7:1), but strive to keep the law which we have received (see Luke 12:48). Lying to someone you love can damage a relationship, but telling the truth can bring healing (see John 8:32).

If you know someone in southern Utah who needs a licensed marriage and family therapist, please share my professional site with them. I specialize in couples' therapy, blended families, singles' guidance, grief counseling, and working with adolescents. Thank you!

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