Fanboy Flick Pick: When It Comes to Tom Clancy, Kenneth Branagh Don't Know Jack

By Luke Y. Thompson in Movies
Friday, January 17, 2014 at 8:00 am

One of these things is not like the others

I'm kind of okay with all that stuff, so long as you don't tell me you're explicitly NOT doing James Bond and being "real." It's as realistic as Keira Knightley's misplaced American accent; isn't Ryan's wife supposed to be English?

I realize I'm poking holes in something that isn't really meant to stand up to scrutiny. While all involved talk a good game, this movie really is a bit of a toss-off, a disposable date movie to enjoy momentarily and then completely forget about. On that score, it works; seeming hangover aside, Pine is an enjoyable screen presence with a good sense of timing and delivery, while Costner's more fun as an aging action guy than he ever was in his (tedious) prime. Branagh's a more difficult nut to crack - it feels like he couldn't bear to play a completely unsympathetic villain, so while his Viktor Cherevin begins the movie as an uber-badass holding all the cards, he rather quickly folds into the least effective spy-movie nemesis since Dr. Evil, who at least had frickin' lasers. Cherevin's best weapon is a mercury-laden eco-lightbulb - granted, he does indeed make it frightening in context, but still...a lightbulb?

If they must continue this movie franchise - and inevitably they will, even if it's yet another reboot - I'm fine with Pine being the guy, though I suggest maybe next time shooting in a country with less constant partying (hard to blame the guy; with his looks and health, I'd be out late too), like a Muslim country. Actors aren't everything to this series, however: the once-dependable Harrison Ford never did much for me as Ryan, while surprisingly Ben Affleck was more appealing than usual. Fans of Ryan, I would think, want Tom Clancy's stories in the equation, and rightly so. The author may not be turning in his grave, but a slight bout of restlessness is probably to be expected, as his spirit goes, "dammit, Branagh, even a non-military critic guy sees the holes in your logic!"

You could do worse for a January date movie. I hope next time, they'll do better.

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