Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit 1

Jack Ryan isn’t a new character by any means. Between 1990 and 2002, he was played by three different actors across four separate movies. So to keep him fresh, the next installment of the series is going back to the character’s early days, when he was just a CIA analyst who got in way over his head.

As actor Chris Pine explained at a recent footage screening, the Jack Ryan of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is “a man that actually shakes and deals with the repercussions” when he’s thrust into violent situations, “unlike a Bourne or a Bond.” Indeed, the footage shown at a special presentation in New York this week has Jack looking downright freaked out after he’s forced to go mano-a-mano with a baddie.

Hit the jump to read a recap of the scenes we saw, plus some quotes from Pine about his character.

In all, we saw about seventeen minutes of footage featuring Pine, Nonso Anozie, Kevin Costner, and Keira Knightley. Villain/director Kenneth Branagh did not feature in the clips, unfortunately, but we got a nice long look at some well staged action plus a better sense of who, exactly, our main characters are.

The first scene opens at Domodedovo Airport. Jack is being picked up by his professional detail, a Ugandan man named Embee (Anozie). The take a taxi ride through Moscow, passing sights like the Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Embee: “It looks like an ice cream truck”). Once Jack checks in at the hotel, Embee insists on following him up to his room to take a look around.

While Jack is admiring the view, Embee suddenly tries to shoot him and Jack ducks for cover. As Embee continues to shoot, Jack manages to get away and find a hiding spot. He is red-faced and panting in the close-up, and seems absolutely terrified.

Embee takes several shots toward the bathroom, but once he goes in for a better look Jack suddenly launches himself from the ceiling, where he’d been hiding. The two grapple, each trying to keep the gun away from the other, and at one point Embee attempts to strangle Jack with dental floss.

Eventually, Jack manages to knock Embee into the bathtub, turning on the faucet in the process. He keeps one foot on Embee’s head as the tub fills with water, and Embee drowns to death.

A wild-eyed Jack backs away toward the wall, keeping the gun trained on Embee’s body. He swings in panic when the shower turns on, but realizes that he had simply leaned against the knob. In a panic, he wipes the gun on his suit to get rid of the finger prints and tosses the weapon away.

He heads upstairs to an outdoor area within the hotel, and takes out his cell phone to call for help. The woman on the other end attempts to give Jack instructions, but he is spooked and says he doesn’t know his way around the city.

He tells her that he’s merely an analyst and that he’s been at the firm for just three weeks, but she responds by pointing out his background. “You’re a Marine. It’s the only reason you’re still alive right now,” she says. “Remember your tradecraft and you’ll be fine.”

Embee’s lifeless body is still in the tub when Jack returns to his room. He receives instructions and heads down to the street, looking paranoid about every passing person and car as he does so. His phone rings and it’s Cathy (Knightley, in a flawless American accent).

She suggests he cut his trip short and meet her in Paris, but he rejects the idea. He also tells her that everything is going OK even though we have clearly seen that that is not the case. “I love you desperately, you know that,” he says at the end of the conversation. “Don’t lose faith in me.”

He arrives in the park, where William Harper (Costner) is sitting on a bench waiting for him. When Jack still looks suspicious, William points out, reasonably, “You gotta pick someone to trust.” He has a dog with him, but it’s just one he stole to avoid suspicion.

Although Jack is clearly shaken up, as William says, “It’s better to be shaking after than during.” William tells Jack about the first person he killed, who was an innocent bystander. “How do you get over it?” Jack asks. “If you’re lucky, you get past it,” William responds.

Jack explains Russia’s complicated and nefarious plot to crash the American economy, thrusting the world into a second Great Depression. The specifics went over my head, to be honest, but I’m going to go ahead and guess that it’s all just movie nonsense anyway. William is a movie character, though, so he listens with interest.

As the conversation winds down, William says, “I need for you to be fine.” But Jack is still upset: “I drowned him.” He is also pretty miffed about the turn his job has taken: “You sold this as an office job.”

William does not seem particularly apologetic about that part. “You’re not just an analyst anymore. You’re operational now,” William reponds. He then walks away, leaving Jack standing alone with the dog.

The second scene was shorter and contained less action, but offered a better look at the film’s female lead, Cathy Ryan. She is in the hotel room with Jack and William, and she is talking about distracting someone — the villainous Viktor Cherevin (Branagh), it turns out — at a gambling table.

Jack is upset by this plan, insisting that she stay at home and protesting that he never wanted to get her involved in his dangerous line of work. She angrily points out that he’s the one who got her involved. “You lied to me for three years,” she says, and the two start to bicker.

William breaks in. “This is geopolitics, not couples therapy,” he snaps. They go back to discussing the plan, which is for Jack to break in and access an important hard drive while Cathy distracts Viktor for ten minutes.

The reel ended with a brief montage of quick clips, showing a high-speed car chase, sniper targets, exploding helicopters, a snowy landscape, an NYPD van driving off a bridge, someone yelling “Where is she?” and Victor saying, ominously, “You think this is a game?”

After the footage presentation, Pine stuck around to talk with us about what we’d just seen. While he acknowledged that he’d used a stunt double for scenes he didn’t “feel comfortable” with, he told us he’d tried to do as much of the action himself as possible.

“I enjoy it because, for instance, the fight scene that you saw, it’s like a dance so there’s like a Zen to it,” he said. Plus, Pine pointed out, “I also think it’s important because it allows the camera all those little itty bitty moments of seeing your face. It just, again, kind of gives a reality to it.”

Part of the film’s “reality” is that although Jack is a Marine, he’s never killed a man before. “Many films in the milieu, in this ilk, it’s like, bad guys die all the time and no one’s really reacting to the fact that people are dying,” Pine said.

“[Director Kenneth Branagh] and I talked about that in the beginning of the process thinking, well, what would that look like? … You’ve just killed a human being, and what does that mean, and how does that affect the person?”

Pine found that the smaller, more intimate elements of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit stood in sharp contrast to his other big action franchise, Star Trek. “Kirk’s fun because he’s such a blowhard and also tonally in that film I can be a little bit bigger and there’s comedy and you can go a little bit broader and I love, love that,” he said.

With Jack Ryan, on the other hand, “Ken kept on asking me to go smaller and it’s very difficult for me because I’m very used to kind of being, you know, the brash thing, whatever. It was hard,” Pine explained. “Ken kept on saying we just wanted to rest the camera on your face and see a man thinking and processing what’s happening. I’m not very comfortable with that. I kind of want to do something and he kept on telling me to stop it.”

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens January 17, 2014.

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