| BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. Jan 17 In "Jack Ryan:
Shadow Recruit," Tom Clancy's emblematic Cold War hero gets a
big-screen reboot on Friday with a familiar villain: Russia.
In this post-9/11 era, Soviet Union no longer exists and
American spy agencies are tracking non-state militant groups
instead. But director Kenneth Branagh said Ryan's longtime
nemesis is still relevant.
"It felt as though there had been a shift around, and the
classic Cold War adversary, America-Russia, had done this flip,"
said Branagh, who also plays the film's principal villain,
Russian oligarch Viktor Cherevin.
"Now, the new financial power, the new empire is Russia," he
added, "and the wood-paneled club rooms of Wall Street feel like
they're connected to an old empire that's somehow connected to
the makers of the American economy in the late 19th century."
The film backed by Paramount Pictures crafts a new origin
story for CIA hero Ryan, portrayed by Chris Pine. It recasts the
agent as a finance wizard and millennial who uncovers what
appears to be a Russian plot to dump $2 trillion onto the open
market in coordination with a terror attack on the United
The film's Kremlin-blessed conspiracy is masterminded by
Cherevin, whose weakness is romance and drink, and is intended
to create a run on banks in the U.S., plunging the country into
a second Great Depression.
"Shadow Recruit" begins on Sept. 11, 2001, in London, where
a 19-year-old Ryan is completing his Ph.D. at the London School
Ryan immediately abandons his studies when he feels the call
to enlist in the U.S. military for the Afghan War.
"I very much liked what David Koepp did in taking it out of
the Cold War context, putting it into a credible, modern
threatening situation, (in) which this civilized, modest, I
would say, gentlemanly man with a brilliant mind is put at
risk," said Branagh, a Northern Irishman best known for his film
adaptations of Shakespeare. Adam Cozad and David Koepp wrote the
script, which was not based on a Clancy novel.
'A QUESTIONING MAN'
Much like the baby boomer Ryan of best-selling novels "The
Hunt for Red October" and "Clear and Present Danger" that were
adapted for the big screen, he has his military service cut
short by a helicopter accident and later is recruited to the CIA
by agent William Harper (Kevin Costner).
Ryan, who struggles to keep his CIA job a secret from his
girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightley), unwittingly goes from being
an agent tracking financial transactions to an operative
fighting Cherevin's multi-layered plot that he suspects but has
no way to prove.
The Ryan character is now in his fifth big-screen iteration.
He last was in theaters in 2002's "The Sum of All Fears," about
black market nuclear weapons and a white supremacy conspiracy
with Ben Affleck as the spy.
Pine, who navigated the expectations of playing William
Shatner's beloved Captain Kirk character in the new "Star Trek"
films, said he was familiar with the Ryan persona portrayed by
Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford in the 1990s but leaned on the
script for his own, post-9/11 Ryan.
"I wanted a very questioning man who was very cognizant of
the world, who engaged with the world, a man who was aware of
what had happened in the CIA with extraordinary renditions and
water boarding and torture," Pine said.
"Fear was really my central thing, his experience in the war
being injured, emotionally, psychically, physically, how does
PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) play a role in someone who
fights again?" Pine said.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Amanda Kwan)