The first must-see movie of 2014

Sandy Kenyon reviews the action drama and comedy in a rare strong January showcase for Hollywood.
January 17, 2014 2:00:41 PM PST
"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is the first absolutely must-see movie of 2014. Chris Pine in the title role helps make this a worthy sequel to the 4 movies that came before and an exhilarating re-boot that ensures the future of the franchise.

Ryan, you may recall, is not an agent, but an analyst recruited for what turns out to be a dangerous mission by a CIA operative played by Kevin Costner, and it's been many years since he has been this effective in a movie.

An investigation into suspicious financial transactions leads him to Russia where a very scary bad guy played by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the film, has a plan to cause financial chaos in the U.S.

Only Keira Knightly, miscast as Ryan's girlfriend and unaware at first he works for the CIA, doesn't quite ring true and she exists mainly to drive the plot of a drama that's all about "edge of your seat" action.

Ride Along

"Ride Along" is a comedy fueled by adrenaline and powered by the talents of Ice Cube as a cop in Atlanta hazing a 'wanna-be' who just happens to be dating his sister. Kevin Hatr makes him hilarious.

So often movies are hyped as "laugh-out-loud funny" but this one truly made me howl. Typically, January is a month where bad movies go to die: lost amid all the Oscar hype, but "Ride Along" and "Jack Ryan" are happy exceptions to this rule. For different reasons, they are both worth seeing.