Based on the character at the center of a barrage of Tom Clancy books, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit stars Star Trek Into Darkness's Chris Pine as the titular covert CIA analyst charged with putting a stop to a devious Russian plot to devastate the U.S. economy. Appearing opposite Pine are Anna Karenina's Keira Knightley as Jack's wife Cathy, Man of Steel's Kevin Costner as his handler William Harper, and Thor director Kenneth Branagh, who aside from playing growling Russian Viktor Cherevin also helms this feature. You can see each of them in action above, and be sure to note the English ingénue's nifty American accent and the weird way Costner says the word "anonymous."

Before Shadow Recruit, Jack Ryan has previously appeared in four other feature films, played by three other actors. The first was Alec Baldwin in 1990's The Hunt for Red October. 1992 brought the Harrison Ford-fronted Patriot Games, which was followed up by 1994's Clear and Present Danger, in which Harrison also starred. Lastly, in 2002 Ben Affleck headlined The Sum of All Fears opposite Morgan Freeman. As you might have guessed by comparing these stars against Pine, Shadow Recruit is set earlier in the CIA agent's career than most of the films above.

The trailer up top teases plenty of intrigue and some in-your-face, helicopter-exploding action. But even with its star-studded cast will Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit be able to compete against the very crowded release date of Christmas Day? December 20th will bring the openings of such buzzed about features as the outrageous comedy Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, the George Clooney historical thriller The Monuments Men, Disney's biopic Saving Mr. Banks and Spike Jonze's Her, which recently won rave reviews at the New York Film Festival. But that's not all. By December 27th, the Ben Stiller-directed Secret Life of Walter Mitty will debut theatrically alongside the long-awaited 47 Ronin, the Robert De Niro/ Sylvester Stallone sports comedy Grudge Match, and August: Osage County, a drama absolutely stuffed to the brim with stars from Meryl Streep to Julia Roberts and Benedict Cumberbatch.

Basically, there's plenty of fierce competition, but Paramount Pictures' placement of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit in this pack suggests they are confident of the product and its appeal. And maybe they should be. After all, Branagh's last directorial effort took in an astounding $449 million worldwide. Of course, it was Thor, and so had the power of the pre-existing Marvel franchise behind it. Still, credit should be given in part to Branagh's skill for balancing drama and action. But what do you think?

If you were going to see just one of these movies over the Christmas holiday, which would it be?

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit opens December 25th, 2013.

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