My Week in Movies – January 23rd

Welcome back for another installment of “My Week in Movies”. This week I managed to see two 2014 releases, Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan and Cuba Gooding, Jr’s Life of a King.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit stars Chris Pine as Tom Clancy’s CIA hero. We start the movie in London where Ryan is a student who watches the September 11th terror attacks on TV after stirring from a nap on a bench. We fast-forward a bit and Ryan is now a Lieutenant in the US armed forces and aboard a helicopter where he’s pressing a superior over the phone to read a report he submitted. the chopper is it by an explosive and we spend a chunk of the movie at Walter Reed where Pine works with Keira Knightly’s PT resident. Kevin Costner also enters the movie As a shadowy commander watching Pine from afar and considering his approach. He recruits Ryan to work as an undercover financial analyst on Wall Street and the movie starts rolling from action scene to action scene after that. I enjoyed this movie far more than I expected. It’s a bit slow in the early going but that’s mostly due to the introduction of Pine and Knightly as they setup for a multi-movie franchise. The plot falls apart once the action starts going. But nothing unforgivable. I wonder where the next installment will take us and if we’ll get more thriller or more action.

Grade: C+

Life of a King

Cuba Gooding, Jr. takes on the role of Eugene Brown, an ex-con and estranged father, who tries to improve his life and the life of some neighborhood kids. The movie starts off with Eugene being released after nearly two decades in prison. He struggles to find a job and re-connect with his family. Eventually, he lies on an application and gets a job as a janitor at a local school. He ends up taking over detention duties and teaching chess to his students. From here we drop into the very expected inspirational mentor mixed with tragedy plot. Life of a King will stick with me because of the vehicle used to inspire, chess, and the lead actor. But will end up mostly forgotten as an average film in a mass of movies I plan on watching this year. It’s “based on a true story” line doesn’t bother me too much here but the expected plot points make me think it’s been embellished quite a bit. This film can (and will) be safely ignored.

Grade: C+

This week ended up better than last week but still not a great week. Jack Ryan could prove to be a good start to a new franchise and Life of a King is touching but just another inspirational mentor story. Maybe next week will be better but I have my doubts, we’re still in the wasteland of the early year.