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Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack_Ryan_PosterThe second great depression? Who cares? Where’d the cute decoy dog go?

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” focuses on the Tom Clancy-created character, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), a CIA analyst who’s suddenly made operational after coming across hidden files suggesting a Russian oligarch is about to unleash a devastating financial attack on the United States. As the most knowledgeable person on the case, Jack’s superior, William Harper (Kevin Costner), decides he’s the man for the job and sends Jack on his first field assignment to Moscow where he’s expected to uncover the details of the terrorist plot before Kenneth Branagh’s Viktor Cherevin can topple the economy.

Oddly enough, more happens to Jack in the 15 minutes prior to everything in that synopsis. We meet a young Jack in London where his studies are interrupted by the 9/11 attacks. He’s inspired to join the Marines and becomes an all-star solider until his helicopter is shot down, landing him in rehab for months. His doctor-in-training, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), motivates him to suck it up and get back on his feet, and that’s when Costner’s Harper moves in, waiting until the time is right and then recruiting Jack for the CIA. Now that’s a movie. The script doesn’t give these life-changing events much time to breathe, but based on this sampling, had the film chronicled the ups and downs of Jack’s career prior to becoming an analyst, there would have been far more heart and meaning to the experience.

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Paramount Previews Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Footage

jackryanfootage1A new iteration of the Tom Clancy character, Jack Ryan, is about to hit the big screen and to ring in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit‘s impending January 17, 2014 release, Jack Ryan himself, Chris Pine, and Paramount screened 17 minutes of footage from the film in New York City.

In the Kenneth Branagh-directed film, we follow a young Jack Ryan as he tries to thwart a financial terrorist plot in present day Moscow. Before rolling into the footage, Pine prefaced, “Jack, he’s an analyst. He is a man that is physical, but is much more comfortable being behind the scenes.” Unlike a James Bond or Jason Bourne-type character who can quickly and naturally spring into action, simply put, Jack is scared. Pine further explained, “It’s a scary thing, just like if any of us were confronted with a violent or physical situation. You see a man who actually shakes.” And Pine meant that literally because in the footage screened, Jack trembles quite a bit.

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Review: Ender’s Game

Enders_Game_Poster1Gavin Hood’s “Ender’s Game” is like a CliffsNotes version of a book that still reads well.

Asa Butterfield leads as Ender, a young boy who’s plucked from his family on earth and enrolled in Battle School in space. There, under the supervision of Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford), Ender is trained to become a leader within the International Fleet so the humans can squash an alien race called The Formics and eliminate the threat of future invasions once and for all.

Orson Scott Card’s book takes place over the course of five years. Ender is recruited when he’s just six-years-old and the narrative concludes when he’s 11. The concept of a six-year-old showing signs of militaristic prowess can be tough to digest, but Card then gives Ender such a thorough and thoughtful build throughout the book that by the time Ender reaches his final exam, you know he’s ready for it. Gavin Hood, however, does not have that luxury.

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Review: The Grey

Liam Neeson and director Joe Carnahan are back together again, but this time around, they’re working with material that’s far less fun than The A-Team. But less fun doesn’t make The Grey a bad movie. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Rather than turn The Grey into an utterly unrealistic survival adventure story, we get something far darker and, while it still has those handful of moments that make you think twice, it completely sells the severity of the situation.

Neeson’s Ottway works for a petroleum company in the icy tundra of Alaska. Amidst the other ex-cons, fugitives and “men unfit for mankind,” Ottway’s job is to keep them safe by shooting down invading wolves. When it’s time to return to society, Ottway and a number of his colleagues board a plane to Anchorage. Along the way, turbulent weather takes hold and the plane comes crashing down in the middle of nowhere – actually, in the middle of wolf territory.

The few survivors are thankful to be alive, but soon come to the harsh realization that they’re being hunted. With no food and few supplies, the group has to band together to keep each other safe from the wolves who look to viciously pick them off one-by-one.

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