CHANNELS 'MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE', 'CARLITO'S WAY'
Writing about Kenneth Branagh's Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, South Philly Review's Kurt Osenlund states that "Branagh’s approach helps at virtually every turn, from getting us through verbose debriefing scenes that might bog down the pace to de-cluttering Jack’s relationship to Cathy, who’s uncannily understanding of her partner’s secrecy, then brought into the fold for a remarkable con sequence (Branagh channels Brian De Palma’s Mission: Impossible, and that’s a huge compliment). Car chases are swift and compelling, scam specifics are choreographed with great sleekness, and in moments that need to underscore Jack’s dueling competence and inexperience, Pine delivers as a leading man."
And it turns out there is a good reason Branagh's film might channel De Palma's Mission: Impossible, because David Koepp was a key screenwriter on both projects. But the route taken by the Jack Ryan screenplay is an interesting one. Once upon a time, Adam Cozad wrote a spec script titled Dubai that made the Black List of best unproduced screenplays in 2007. Paramount (home of the Mission: Impossible franchise), looking to reboot a Jack Ryan franchise, bought Dubai and hired Anthony Peckham to rework it, and the title changed to Moscow, with Cozad doing another rewrite after Peckham. Interestingly, at that point, Paramount talked to Steven Zallian (who had worked with De Palma on the initial structure of Mission: Impossible) about working on the Moscow script, but he passed, and they then hired Koepp, who took over with gusto, working on it for well over a year with Branagh at the helm (Jack Bender had been the director initially attached in the early stages of the project).
I saw Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit yesterday, and liked it quite a bit. Branagh gives a terrifically strong performance as the Russian villain, there are some nicely-shot sequences, and the story is compelling enough, even with a typical time-bomb ending. Aside from the M:I-style con sequence mentioned above, I noticed a bit of dialogue that seems to echo De Palma's Carlito's Way, which was also written by Koepp. In Carlito's Way, after their little "boat ride," Carlito angrilly gives Kleinfeld some advice: "You ain’t a lawyer no more, Dave. You’re a gangster now. You’re on the other side. Whole new ball game. You can’t learn about it at school, and you can’t have a late start."
We posted last week some quotes from Kevin Costner about taking on the "Sean Connery mentor role" in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. In the film, after Jack Ryan has a deadly run-in with a baddie out to kill him, Costner's shadowy CIA agent tells him, "You're not just an analyst anymore. You're operational now." That clip is below: