Videophiled: Chris Pine a young ‘Jack Ryan’ and Liam Neeson is still ‘Non-Stop’

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Paramount, Blu-ray, DVD, VOD, On Demand) is prequel and reboot all in one, with Chris Pine taking on the role of the young CIA analyst Ryan as he takes his first field assignment under the command of Kevin Costner. Pine is the fourth Ryan in the fifth Ryan film, but this is the first one that isn’t adapted from one of Tom Clancy’s novels. It’s an original story and it takes the US / Russia tensions out of the Cold War of Clancy’s first books and into the Putin era, with Kenneth Branagh as a Russian financial tycoon plotting an act of economic terrorism on the U.S. Which is why Jack Ryan, a former Marine and a graduate of the London School of Economics, is sent in for this very specialized mission.

Branagh directs this one too, wrangling a complicated production with more efficiency than personality. For that he has Pine, just fine as the brainy American patriot, and Costner, perfect as the veteran soldier and father figure mentor, and Keira Knightly as well, playing Ryan’s fiancée who gets pulled into the mission when she shows up to surprise Jack. The surprise is on her when she finds out he’s a covert agent and she’s a target.

The supplements are on the Blu-ray: Commentary by director / co-star Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, four featurettes, and deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary.

Non-Stop (Universal, Blu-ray, DVD, Digital HD, On Demand) continues Liam Neeson’s unexpected career reboot as an aging action hero. This time he’s an alcoholic air marshal who is targeted by hijackers and then framed for a series of murders that take place at 20,000 feet. Which turns out to be pretty easy when you can peg your target to overreact on cue and send it viral from passenger cell phone video.

Neeson gets to play the compromised hero set up as a patsy, and who gets a shot at redemption when he defies his place in the bad guys’ script, but it’s no Taken. Director Jaume Collet-Serra put Neeson through his paces in Unknown and does the same here, unleashing him on a script that is not much more than a series of plot twists and evil genius scheming with so many moving parts that it could only work in the movies. Julianne Moore is a fellow passenger with a second act revelation that is a screenwriter’s gimmick with no satisfactory payoff and Michelle Dockery is a stewardess who knows a little of Neeson’s backstory and his problems with the bottle, but Lupita Nyong’o (an Oscar winner for 12 Years a Slave) is shamefully wasted in a nothing role. Collet-Serra comes up with some inventive ways to shoot the enclosed space and keep it all roaring ahead, but this is one of the action films that is deviously clever but not all that smart.

Blu-ray and DVD with the featurette “Suspense at 40,000.” The Blu-ray also includes the bonus featurette “Non-Stop Action,” plus bonus DVD and UltraViolet Digital HD copies of the film.

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