Back in the day Phil and I read a series of books by Tom Clancy about an American ex-marine now a CIA analyst, Jack Ryan and his adventures when he ends up in all sorts of trouble dealing with terrorists, world crises etc etc. They were great books and subsequently made into movies. Alec Baldwin played Ryan the first time round and Harrison Ford in the next two. Then due to filming problems they rebooted the series and started again with a different story, but a younger Jack Ryan starting out, played by Ben Affleck.
We have been thoroughly enjoying the series Jack Ryan on Netflix, starring John Strasinski, so Phil chose The Sum of All Fears,(2002) with Affleck starring and Morgan Freeman as his superior, William Cabot, and directed by Phil Alden Robinson who paces the thriller well enough to keep on top of the complexities. It starts with the the shooting down of an Israeli plane carrying a nuclear bomb in 1973 during the Yom Kippur war, which gets buried in the desert in the Golan Heights, and moves on to 19 years later when the bomb has been discovered, and sold to a neo-fascist cabal headed by Richard Dressler played by the inimitable Alan Bates. From there we find Ryan accompanying Cabot to visit a Russian nuclear decommisioning weapons facility, discovering missing nuclear scientists, and putting everything together before the bomb is used against the US. No spoilers, well sorry, just one, the bomb does go off and how that is filmed is A-MAZE-ING, the film was worth the watch just for that alone. Other notable mentions are Bridget Moynahan as Jack’s girlfriend, James Cromwell as The President, and the gorgeous Liev Schreiber as under cover dark ops person John Clark. Really worth a watch, Clancy has a way of fictionalising the real world that make his stories believable, and though the movie did change a few things, (the baddies were Arab terrorists in the book and not Neo Fascists ~ inventing villains means they don’t upset anyone thereby losing money 🙂 ) it romps along at a good pace, the action sccenes are well done, and all the actors give it it’s just desserts. The critics had mixed responses, rare that they don’t, but we really enjoyed it and I can see more Jack Ryan movies turning up on Phil’s Retro Thursday.
So on to my Saturday Fun movie, which kinda was, but also kinda wasn’t. I’d watched a music video on Youtube, Starlight by Miles Kennedy and Slash, and noticed that whoever uploaded it put it together with scenes from The Book of Eli movie which I’d seen before, and wanted to do again. It leaves Amazon Prime in a couple of days so this weekend was it.
The Book of Eli (2010) directed by The Hughes Brothers stars Denzil Washington in the title role. The movie is set in a post~apocalyptic dystopian world, and I’m not doing any spoilers on the plot, it’s worth going in unknowing if you haven’t already seen it. I will say though it is ostensibly about good and evil, and more to the point, that something good can be used for either. Gary Oldman, one of my favourite actors plays a warlord running a shanty town, and Mila Kunis is Solara, a servant to him through her blind mother (Jennifer Beales) being his mistress. I say mistress as if she has a choice but I don’t think she has really.
I loved the look of the movie, they did post~apocalysm really well, which is not surprising as the much experienced and lauded Don Burgess was the cinematographer. Washington had to train for months to learn the Filipino martial art of Kali, and he made it look really good. It probably isn’t his best ever movie, but Eli is a sympathetic character, and Washington can emote through his pores, I love watching him in anything. Oldman can sometimes go over the top on being a villain, but there’s some restraint here and he’s more hammy than OTT, which serves him well, and Kunis does what she needs to to give some pathos to the character of Solara. I’ve had a soft spot for the N.Irish actor Ray Stevenson since he played Titus Pullo in the HBO series ‘Rome’, so enjoyed seeing him doing a good job as Oldmans right hand man Redridge
Mixed reviews from the critics, no surprises there, but no complaints here.