Jack Ryan Pine and Costner

En route to the rendezvous, he gets a call from his wife Cathy. I knew Keira Knightley had secured that role, but was still stunned to hear her American accent. It sounds authentic, but Knightley's original English accent is so a part of her persona that I frankly couldn't get over what a transformation this change in inflection was. Their conversation is cut short as Ryan rushes to meet his contact William Harper, played by Kevin Costner.

These two have a very involved conversation about what this analyst has uncovered that would make someone want him dead. "You are not just an analyst anymore," Harper informs Ryan. "You are operational now." To be honest, I didn't follow all of the economics jargon Ryan was throwing down. It's a finance-based plot on a global level but the broad strokes are that Russia wants to tank the American economy by covertly bringing on the Second Great Depression. This is how villain Viktor Cherevin - played by director Branagh - will fit in, but neither this clip nor the next gave him any face time.

We leap to a new scene, which appears to be at the tail end of act two. Now Jack and Cathy Ryan are reunited, but not happily. She's getting orders from Harper on how she can best aid in an operation to get the best of Cherevin. Cathy is calm, and willing to take the risk of playing the diversion for this wily Russian while her husband sneaks into his office building to hook up some spy tech. Jack is less enthusiastic about the idea, and wants Cathy kept far away from this deadly gamble. Harper ends the debate by deadpanning, "This is geo-politics, not couples therapy." While Jack grimaces, Cathy exits to make herself into eye candy to bait the baddie.

Smashcut to a frenetic sizzle reel of action, Ryan running, Branagh glowering - there was so much that my notes devolved into completely illegible scribbles. There's a clear energy to the film, which shouldn't be surprising to anyone whose seen Pine in Star Trek or Branagh's last action effort Thor. It seems part of the secret to this vibrancy is in how Branagh shoots. While many directors shoot a wide shot of a scene first, then move in for close-ups, Pine told us the opposite is true of Branagh's style. "Ken likes to work in reverse, so the beginning of the day is actually the close-up and then as you go on throughout the day it gets wider and wider," Pine said. "And often times that can be kind of intimidating for an actor because often times you’re spending the day trying to figure out what the fuck you’re doing, but I enjoyed it with this. There was an energy to the scenes and a rawness to the scenes because you didn’t have time to make sense of everything. You had to think on the fly at six in the morning when we’re shooting and I’ve never worked that way and I enjoyed it very much."

Another challenge Pine faced was having to tone down the big emotions he'd grown accustomed to playing as Captain Kirk. "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," Pine explained. "And this, 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. It was difficult to kind of cut as much as I could out of everything and 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."

Asked if part of the appeal of his current project, the musical Into the Woods, was the return to big emotions, Pine responded, "Yeah. That was really more because it was such an incredible cast and I don’t have a very big part, but I just wanted to be a part of that group. And I never sung before – I mean, on camera. I sing in the shower… But yeah, it’s fun. The Prince Charming is very kind of fairy tale-ish and two-dimensional and big hair. I mean, it was a blast. I love that stuff. "

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens on January 17, 2014.

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