We live in the age of remakes and reboots. Most of the time I’m unhappy about hearing remakes or reboots get the green light but when I heard it was happening for Jack Ryan I was pretty excited. I’m a big fan of the Tom Clancy novels and even bigger fan of the Harrison Ford movies. Even Ben Affleck’s attempt called “The Sum of All Fears” was pretty good. Even though that film ruined Clancy’s story by changing the villains from Arab terrorists to Neo Nazi’s which made no sense what so ever. This reboot starts everything over. We see Jack Ryan(Chris Pine) while in school in England when the attacks on 9/11 happen. He takes his talents to the military but in one short scene we see that a helicopter he was riding in is shot down over Afghanistan. Next thing we know he’s in a military hospital, back broken, the doctors talk about his heroics saving the other passengers from the wreckage, but we never see any of this.
While recovering he meets a beautiful doctor(Keira Knightley) who helps him gain his strength. Knightley here does a very impressive American accent but her character is limited which was sad to see. Ryan from here gets picked up to be a covert CIA agent by a veteran agent(Kevin Costner). The problem this film has is it speeds through everything and frankly we’ve seen all of this before. The only bright light is when the villain is revealed. Kenneth Branagh plays a Russian millionaire who is trying to destroy America’s economy. Funny enough Branagh also directed the film. He’s scenes are hands down the best, he brings a darkness to the movie.
The action scenes, which there are not many of are very well filmed. The major problem for the film is that it just all feels very been there done that. The trailers for the movie hinted that Jack Ryan couldn’t trust anyone, none of this is actually in the film. At no point do we believe his mentor or wife could be a threat to him in any way. It’s rather clear that the only bad guy is Branagh. His characters plan is interesting but not very complex. So in the end the movie is just very generic. I was hoping for this film to lead into a franchise, for that to happen though the movie needed to take a chance and instead it kept its head down and stayed in the shadows.
We follow Carl Jung(Michael Fassbender), who was an admirer of the highly talented Sigmund Freud(Viggo Mortensen) and tried and used the controversial method called “the talking cure”. Still Jung is presented with a slight challenge in the form of a woman named Sabina(Keira Knightley) who has a lot of problems, basically she connects pain with love and sex. As Jung heals her he finds himself falling in love with her. Their relationship also helps tear Jung away from Freud and almost makes them rivals.
This film is perfect for David Cronenberg who isn’t afraid of violence and sex in his films. Now the film isn’t violent at all but sex is always a topic. This may be one of his most clean films, no real visuals here, mainly just dialogue. Fassbender gets most of the screen time here as the film focuses on him treating Sabina. The love story isn’t what you would think it would be since a lot of it happens of screen. Jung of course being a married man with children can’t keep up the love affair. The way Jung handles himself though burns away at his relationship with Freud. The respect begins to fade and only the competitive nature of the men remain. Cronenberg does a fantastic job here and many scenes are just so crisp and clean looking, I loved it. My only problem would be some editing choices that made the film a little choppy.
Acting wise Fassbender is becoming a force of nature with great performances in X-Men: First Class and Shame, now here he is becoming a top notch actor. Mortensen is almost unrecognizable, if I didn’t know ahead of time it was him I think I wouldn’t have guessed it. His screen time is limited but it stands out every time he is on screen. The true stand out though is Keira Knightley who was asked to do a lot. Not only is her character Sabina Russian she has very odd movements, especially early on as she deals with the pain she went through in her youth. Knightley is mainly remembered for the Pirate film franchise. Here though she is showing off her acting chops and it really helps give a lot of life to the film. Without her I’m not exactly sure what would keep people interested as her character is the life force of the script and the story. The script is also very solid, it is deep and never afraid to dive into topics of sex and emotions connecting to choices we make. It was a real treat for me to get another Cronenberg film and I enjoyed it so much that it felt like five minutes past as the film ended. If you have any interest in Jung or Freud then this film is a must see.