8:00 PM, 16th March, 2003
Gavin Banek (Affleck) is a high flyer, recently made a partner in a law firm. Doyle Gipson (Jackson) is a former alcoholic who is frantically trying to show that he is a fit father to prevent his ex-wife from taking their son to live on the other side of the country. They are involved in a minor car accident on a day when both need to be in court on time ((mdash)) Gavin, to present a power of attorney form; Doyle, to try to maintain custody of his son.
After the accident, Gavin does not want to be bothered with insurance claims and simply hands Doyle a blank cheque and leaves him stranded with his now non-functioning car. But Gavin also accidentally leaves behind the power of attorney form he needs for court. So begins an increasingly tense power struggle between the two.
Whilst this film was directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill, Persuasion), it is not even a distant cousin of an amiable romantic comedy. Instead, it is an intriguing psychological thriller. It does not uncover any amazing conspiracies, but provides a compelling investigation into what might happen to ordinary people in ordinary circumstances if they are pushed too far.
10:00 PM, 16th March, 2003
An unexploded nuclear weapon is bought on the black market by a neo-Nazi group ((mdash)) with its detonation planned to feed distrust between the United States and Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the death of the Russian President means that humble CIA analyst Jack Ryan (de-aged to become Ben Affleck) is suddenly advising his chief-of-staff (Freeman) and the President on whether they can trust the new Soviet premier. And as the climate of distrust increases, Ryan may be the only man who can stop a nuclear holocaust.
Anybody expecting fidelity to the source novel is going to be severely disappointed. Jack Ryan has been reset to a young bachelor analyst (rather than the family-man senior adviser of the novel, and the last three movies); the Arabs of the novel have become neo-Nazis. The movie is way shorter than it would have to be to follow Clancy's 1000+ page opus too precisely. But for anyone else, this is a fairly taut, exciting action-thriller ((mdash)) many of the thrills coming from political manoeuvrings and double-dealings against an escalating background of paranoia ((mdash)) that also provides a fair chunk of action, particularly in the last thirty minutes.