“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (PG-13): Teens may scoff at the outlandish computer acrobatics in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” but they’re still likely to get a kick out of this slightly jingoistic spy thriller. It imagines a new, post-Soviet Cold War that mixes terror with financial chicanery. While one violent confrontation gets pretty intense, most of the mayhem is more implied and fast-moving than bloody.
The film works, thanks in large part to Chris Pine, so good as young Capt. Kirk in the recent “Star Trek” reboots (both PG-13). He cuts an equally dashing figure as Jack Ryan, a super-intellectual, super-brave superspy. The old anti-communist mentality that underpinned Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels and film adaptations that starred the likes of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck has been altered. This film is not based on a Clancy novel, just the characters he created, and the story involves a cabal of Russian oligarchs.
Pine’s Ryan is a grad student in London when the 9/11 attacks occur. He joins the Marines, sustains a serious back injury in the Afghan War, falls in love with the medical student (Keira Knightley) who helps him in rehab, and is recruited by CIA honcho Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). His job ever since has been to work undercover in Wall Street firms, looking for suspicious accounts that could fund terrorists. It’s 2013 when Jack uncovers strange Russia-based funds. Harper sends him to Moscow, where Ryan must shift from analyst to operative when someone tries to kill him. The Russian CEO he has come to “meet” with, Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh, who also directed), plans a huge terror attack against America, followed by a financial attack designed to create a Second Great Depression.
The scene in which Ryan kills an attacker is a knock-down, drag-out head-banger that ends with Ryan drowning the man in a bathtub. It is pretty strong stuff that stays more or less within PG-13 boundaries. The rest of the film includes rare profanity and a whole lot of chases on foot and in SUVs.
“The Nut Job” (PG): The Family Filmgoer heard kids laughing throughout a preview screening of “The Nut Job,” though she found the film’s humor flat and the story tedious. So this animated 3-D film may be one that parents just have to suffer through, but it’s fine for kids 7 and older.
Surly (voice of Will Arnett), a less common black squirrel, survives on his wits in the big city. He and his scruffy rat pal Buddy (Robert Tinkler) don’t cooperate with the organized park animals – squirrels, chipmunks, possums, gophers and others – led by Raccoon (Liam Neeson) and the silent pet cardinal on his shoulder.
It’s going to be a hard winter, and Raccoon worries that they haven’t stored enough nuts. Andie (Katherine Heigl), a red squirrel, and Grayson (Brendan Fraser), a gray squirrel who fancies himself an action hero, check out a nut-seller’s wagon. They don’t realize that (a) the wagon is owned by gangsters planning a bank heist, and (b) Surly and Buddy also aim to rob it. The critters’ initial caper ends in chaos. Next, Surly, Buddy, Andie and Grayson happen upon the actual storefront nut shop the gangsters are using as cover for a tunnel they’re digging into the bank. The animals dodge gunfire, mouse traps and the top gangster’s (Stephen Lang) pug dog, whom they befriend.
Kids may get briefly scared during non-injurious gunplay, a truck chase, and a couple of explosions, one of which topples a bridge or dam. Animal characters are believed to have drowned, but they’re OK. There are multiple flatulence gags.