WHOOOSH! The White House does not get blown up this time. In fact, we don’t ever see the White House, and every time I see Keira Knightley, I miss Julia Roberts.

POW! It’s Chris Pine, the very latest cut out and clip up pretty face from GQ and Esquire. It may be early, but I think he’s a shoo in to replace Ben Affleck in the next Batman.

WHAM! Chris Pine floats out of space as Captain Kirk in the “Star Trek” revival and becomes ZAP! our new Jack Ryan, replacing Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan. Can anyone really replace Harrison Ford?

ZAM! Jack Ryan graduates from London School of Economics when the 9-11 attack halts his thesis paper. So he comes home and POW! He joins the Marines, goes to Afghanistan and SPLAT ! He is blown up and crippled in a rocket bombing of his Apache warship.

SHAZAM! HE DOES NOT DIE! No, he doesn’t even get PTSD. He recovers in a super rehab hospital under the gentle care of OH NO! It’s Keira Knightly as Nurse Jane. Didn’t Hemingway write this already in “A Farewell To Arms?” Of course he did, but director Kenneth Branagh, yes, THAT Kenneth Branagh, only stole the first part.

HUH? Is that Kevin Costner without a baseball or a horse? He’s here as an aging, world weary, CIA operative dressed as a navy commander? Yes he is, and he’s looking good, better than he did in “The Hatfields and The McCoys.”


Kevin appears out of nowhere, which all CIA agents do, talks Jack into finishing his paper, so that he can become a financial analyst for the CIA and gets sent to spend some time on a Wall Street firm for cover, as he uncovers a big financial terrorist plot by Russia to throw America into a financial crisis and crush America’s wealth.

HEY! Didn’t Wall Street already do that?

BOOOOM! This is big screen computer warfare, with numbers and codes and zig zaggy lines that mean something we don’t want to think about.

What the Russians plot to do is hack into our financial world, download all the secret numbers and then … wait a minute, didn’t they already do that to Target? Of course they did. But this time they’re serious. This will bring the Great Depression, Part Two. All of this is being hatched by one Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh in hat #2)

Knowing that we, the audience, who have seen better spy stuff on TV (“Homeland” “The Americans”) would soon grow bored with all those numbers and codes and dials and endless incomprehensible conversations about the financial structure of China, Russia and us, and fall asleep,

TZAMM! Kenneth Branagh came up with a subplot: Every movie needs a terrorist plot to stir things up, and Kenneth comes up with a doozy. I can’t tell you exactly what it is, but it involves a disguised police van, a young Russian with familiar ties to the homeland, and tons and mega-tons of explosives. The target, not the store, but the real target, is Wall Street, but in a way no one has thought of before.


ZOWIE! If I told you more I’d have to kill you. There will be a chase scene, as in Jason Bourne, involving a motorcycle and the aforementioned police van.

BRAM! WOW! IT’S NOT OVER: The smarmy evil Viktor Cherevin takes Jack and his fiancee, Nurse Jane, (I forgot to tell you that she came to Moscow on her own, because she doesn’t know he’s CIA and she think’s he cheating on her, and now she’s hostage bait) to dinner. At the dinner party, oh see, I’m giving too much away again.

Seriously. I’m told, that Mr. Pine is a very good stage actor (“The Lieutenant Of Inishmore,” “The Atheist.” ) Pine is not like everyone else. He just LOOKS like everyone else.

Director Kenneth Branagh who also plays meanie Viktor Cherevin, clearly wasn’t paying the rent with Shakespeare, so here he is in a loud thriller. That’s good for us. He’s very good at being evil, and being a director.

Kevin Costner, who plays the world weary CIA agent, has gotten very good at being world weary (“Wyatt Earp,” “The Postman.”) As Thomas Harper, Pine’s handler, he looks very cool and competent.

Writers Adam Cozad and David Koepp keep their tongues in their cheeks, and cinematographer Haris Zambarioukos comes out the biggest winner. Patrick Doyle’s music keeps us excited, even when we’re not.

And then AAARGH! There is Keira Knightley. God, I miss Julia Roberts.

J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor.

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