If you had a choice between being Jack Ryan, James Bond or James T. Kirk, which would you choose? Well, if it were a real life choice, then the answer would be Kirk. Kirk gets the most glory for the least effort, he's an emotional cripple and everybody knows it but they cut him slack. Nothing in particular motivates him except his desire to be Captain, roving out there in the unknown. Bond has a lot more fun than any of the others and he does put his life at risk a lot more often. His enemies are overblown monologuing villains with plenty of minions whose sufficiently crappy kung-fu provides entertaining exercise, and of course there are the girls. Kirk still has better gadgets, but the green skinned alien chicks? Really? Jack Ryan is the least appetizing choice. He's got bureacracy, decisions to make based on incomplete information, a patriotic streak in an America full of postmodern dissidents, ordinary weapons and a wife. Not a very satisfying job, unless you're an actor.
Chris Pine is the actor and he's chosen right, and you know what? He wasn't about to get offered James Bond's role, but by the second Trek we knew that train had run out of dramatic gas. It's about time.
I say it's about time because like most people my age, I am sick and tired of whomever those creatures are that inhabit the 'End of the World' movie of whom I recognize two or three. Somebody with a little bit of brains in Hollywood should have seen that there had to be a new action star *somewhere* in America who wasn't previously a cartoon character. And quite frankly as much as I love Jason Statham (with whose body language I grok as a fellow springboard diver), all of his one offs were getting tired. Haven't yet seen Parker, maybe that'll last.
Chis Pine, with a name easier to say then Helmsworth and the age appropriate for this kind of thing gets the ticket. It actually makes me feel kind of sad for Joseph Gordon Levitt, who can act his way out of a paper bag, but not as a heroic lead. Fortunately, Pine gets to strut his chops amongst the likes of Kevin Costner and Kenneth Brannaugh in this film. Keira Knightley and he work some really good stuff, and boy do I love her non-perfect teeth. These are people who feel like people, and thus with just the suggestion of action, you get some heart-pounding drama. I think that's the way it's supposed to work, and yes that's the kind of spy Jack Ryan is; over his head but with great instincts and a fine mind. I tell you what, it works.
I don't mind the reboot. Pine's Ryan is not exactly the father or the son, but is presumeably the son by dint of age. But there's no Jack Sr in this film nor his mom, which is just as well. As a well-paced thriller that moves deliberately, any more characters would have made this film clunk down.