★★★ JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT—Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) breathes new life into Jack Ryan, a character created and flogged into creative bankruptcy by the late Tom Clancy. This reboot has young CIA operative Ryan (Star Trek’s Chris Pine) uncovering a Russian terrorist plot led by Branagh’s Viktor Cherevin. Groomed by a mentor (Kevin Costner) in modern espionage, Ryan finds himself targeted by the terrorist cell. Branagh brings his unsuspected love of spy and action films to the forefront of this nail-biter. The action seems chaotic at times, and Pine isn’t likely to win any acting awards, but strong supporting work by Branagh and Costner makes up for his wooden emoting.
★★ RIDE ALONG—Alongside Ice Cube, comedian Kevin Hart stars in director Tim Story’s tepid new comedy. Hart plays Ben, a high-school security guard who attempts to win the respect of his future brother-in-law (Ice Cube) by going on a ride-along with the heroic cop. Story, though he’s responsible for those horrible Fantastic Four films, has been behind the camera for both actors’ finest work to date—Think Like a Man and Barbershop, respectively. But Phil Hay’s script hamstrings what could have been a terrific comedy by recycling Ice Cube’s rap lyrics into dialogue and relying on Hart’s height as the punch line of nearly every joke.