January 19

Movie Preview: Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan is a different kind of patriot-hero

By Chris Lee
McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

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Chris Pine, left, and Kevin Costner in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” an action thriller about a covert CIA analyst who uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

Paramount Pictures photos

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Pine with co-star Keira Knightley, who plays his fiancee.

PREVIEW

“JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT,” starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Directed by Kenneth Branagh. A Paramount release. PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language. Running time: 1:45

Not that Pine made it easy for him. By his own admission, the actor had “argument upon argument upon discussion upon conversation upon debate” with Branagh, trying to find the “center point” of his character, who is dismissively described in “Clear and Present Danger” as a “boy scout.”

Specifically, Pine got hung up on a plot point where Ryan withholds the fact that he’s a CIA agent from his fiancee, played by Keira Knightley.

“‘I couldn’t tell you I was in the CIA because I gave a man my word’ – I told Ken so many times, ‘Doesn’t that sound dumb?’” recalled Pine, who tends to avoid viewing the world in terms of absolutes. “If you were in the CIA, you’d be like, ‘Listen babe, I’m not coming home because I’m an analyst.’ And he said, ‘That’s the great thing about Jack Ryan.’ This old-fashioned Norman Rockwell quality, this integrity. He’s just such a good guy!”

To hear it from Mace Neufeld, the 85-year-old producer behind all the Jack Ryan movies dating to 1990’s “Hunt for Red October,” Pine’s casting was something of a no-brainer.

“He’s about the right age and he’s an extremely attractive young man,” Neufeld said. “I saw him in ‘Star Trek’ and was extremely blown away. Then I happened to see him on stage. I saw him do ‘Farragut North’ and then I saw him do a very bloody show called The Lieutenant of Inishmore,’ which he did with an Irish brogue. Then I found out that his mother and father were working actors. I said, ‘This is the guy. He knows how to act. And he’s serious about acting.’”

Pine is a third-generation actor whose father famously portrayed Sgt. Getraer on the ‘70s TV police procedural “CHiPs”; he grew up in Los Angeles, attending private school in the San Fernando Valley.

But even with all the institutional goodwill toward Pine – he earned a reported $4 million payday for “Shadow Recruit” with back-end profit participation built into his contract, which extends to at least two more sequels – the future of the franchise is far from certain. According to pre-release audience awareness surveys, “Shadow Recruit” is on track to earn a lackluster $20 million over its opening four days in theaters, coming in a distant second to “Ride Along,” an urban comedy starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart.

In Los Angeles these days to film the raunch comedy “Horrible Bosses 2,” having recently wrapped a small part in director Rob Marshall’s star-studded adaptation of the musical “Into the Woods” in London, and with a third “Star Trek” installment already in the works, however, Pine shows no sign of falling off the A-list anytime soon.

And in describing his secret agent character’s hesitant conversion from introspection to action, the actor may as well have been talking about his self-acceptance as a movie star.

“His journey is coming to terms with the kind of fateful responsibility it is to serve on the front lines,” Pine said. “He better get comfortable with it because that’s where he is.”

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