Paramount via Everett Collection
A quarter of the way into Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit's far-too-long runtime, the titular hero takes note of a war-time portait in his adversary Viktor Cherevin's office. "Napoleon," Ryan says, proudly identifying the subject of the painting. "Ah," the nefarious Cherevin smiles. "I see you know your history." You'd think we'd get a bit more academic sophistication in a film directed by Kenneth Branagh... hell, in a line delivered by Kenneth Branagh. But this is par for the course in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit's script. And even more problematic, it's the thing that sticks with me most only a few days after seeing the movie. Well, that and the fact that Chris Pine and Keira Knightley make for the most compatibly attractive onscreen couple I have ever seen. Aside from these standout elements, the film dissolves into a 105-minute (jeez, it feels twice that) blur of running, driving, choking, shooting, and the like.
But it's not a painful jaunt all the while, and this is thanks almost entirely to Pine. An actor who we remember popping up in early Lindsay Lohan movies and thinking little of, Pine has earned his place at the center of franchises like Star Trek and, this weekend's box office intake permitting, Jack Ryan. He maintains character and personality in the movie's heightened scenes of "the first kill" and pulling the long con on Cherevin. With a better, smarter script, Pine could thrive in an action hero role like Ryan, but here he's only left to occasionally cut through a staunch layer of boredom.
Paramount via Everett Collection
The other winning factor of Jack Ryan is in its female lead: Knightley and her character Dr. Cathy Mullins. Another pervasive charmer, Knightley manages to inject a wealth of vitality into the movie at the points most desperate for some flavor — so much so that we're not simply thrilled, but relieved when she shows up unexpectedly to tag along with boyfriend Jack on his mission to... to... well, it's something to do with stopping terrorism. Trust me, you'll forget the specifics as soon as you leave the theater, if not sooner. But the most impressive part is that Shadow Recruit actually gives Knightley something to do as Mullins. She doesn't just wait around and lament the life choices of her danger-prone boyfriend, she gets in on the action. And we're glad for it. Without her, it'd just be Pine. And as much as we like him, he needs somebody else with a personality to play off (sorry, Kevin Costner, but you're not exactly playing your A Game here).
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In short, there's almost nothing to say about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which in itself says a lot — it's dull, it's slow, and it's got two stars who deserve a lot better than the material they're dealt. Aw hell, maybe the sequel (yeah, we've come out of denial... it's gonna happen) will up the ante on the script, and not mistake knowing who Napoleon is for being a history expert.
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Craig Brewer -- the guy responsible for the Footloose remake and, as a result, probably accomplishing the impossible task of ruining Kevin Bacon forever -- just landed a deal to write and direct a new installment of Tarzan, because obviously that's exactly what the entertainment landscape needs right now: a remake of Tarzan.
Anyway, Deadline also reports that, in what almost sounds like a joke, Brewer's story will take three films to tell. Yes. Three. And beyond that, this isn't even the only Tarzan movie being written. Supposedly, screenwriter Adam Cozad is also working on a script, because apparently the natural progression of Hollywood films -- as we've learned over the past few years -- is vampires to zombies to men who are raised in the jungle and look like Brendan Fraser. Oh, what a world we live in.
When a film receives multiple rewrites or goes through a number of drafts under the guidance of multiple scribes, some people take it as bad news. Sure, having too many "cooks in the kitchen" can kill the momentum that the original story had or cramp the narrative, but sometimes it works out for the best and a filmmaker gets to use the greatest bits from each writer. The Ten Commandments had four credited screenwriters; Toy Story had eight and look how those flicks turned out. That's why I'm not all that concerned about today's news regarding Paramount Pictures' untitled Jack Ryan reboot. The scoop: David Koepp will rewrite the script.
The film had an original screenplay from Adam Cozad, who created an origin story for Tom Clancy's beloved CIA analyst called Dubai. Sherlock Holmes' Anthony Peckham then came aboard for a pass on the script, which had then been renamed Moscow. Finally, Steve Zaillian, the Oscar winning writer responsible for Schindler's List and Gangs of New York among countless other classics (including the 1994 Ryan pic Clear and Present Danger), was brought in to polish and perfect the script in time for the shoot. Shockingly, Zaillian left the project before he started to work, forcing the studio to push back the start date as it was not entirely ready to go with the script in place.
Enter Koepp, who has lent his pen to action-adventure franchises like Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible and Spider-Man in the past. He'll begin work on the Ryan script as soon as he finishes editing his own action flick Premium Rush (due January 2012). There's still plenty of time to make it work, as the new plan is to have star Chris Pine shoot his Star Trek sequel this year so he can start on this one in January. Lost's directing producer Jack Bender is still set to helm the flick, with Paramount based power producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld calling the shots with executive producer Mark Vahradian. Known for conceptualizing large scale action set pieces and intense character focused films, Koepp is one of the most accomplished and sought after scribes in the industry. It should come as no surprise that his services were in high-demand for a film like this, nor should it surprise you to know that I think his involvement will dramatically increase the quality of this script. I've always been a fan of the Jack Ryan films and this prequel, with great behind-the-scenes talent in place, shouldn't disappoint.
Now that he's helped spirit away Jack Shephard, Lost executive producer (and director of the finale among other eps) Jack Bender is reportedly thisclose to signing on to direct another iconic/fictional Jack.
The director is in talks for Moscow, Paramount's long-gestating reboot of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan spy franchise, Vulture reported yesterday.
Bender’s most recent directing credit is the 1991 slasher film Child's Play 3.
Chris Pine, who starred in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, will star as a fresh-from-the-Marines Jack Ryan who goes to work as an analyst for a Russian billionaire, but winds up on the run after being implicated in a terrorist plot.
Paramount and co-financier Skydance Productions are readying the Ryan film for a February production start, says Deadline. Script is by Adam Cozad with Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld producing.