I like how Kenneth Branagh handled this concoction of the character's backstory from various novels. As a straightforward action director he does very well. Of course, he could do better. Much better. But the idea seems to be to give Hollywood the formula action they want, and in this, he delivers. The performances are more layered then they appear at first, and above average for this type of film; what doesn't Branagh know about acting and directing actors? People who know the books tell me Chris Pine is the right actor for the part of Jack Ryan. I enjoyed Kevin Costner's co-starring bit although I miss him in westerns. He was born to lead in westerns. Keira Knightley is Keira Knightley. The strongest performance is from Branagh himself. His Russian spy is deeply drawn and precisely played. His interaction with Keira at the restaurant undercuts Chris Pine's scenes with her.
My favorite scene in the film is Branagh's first, where he kicks the inept phlebotomist to the floor and then injects himself. I had to laugh when I saw it. I've wanted to do that myself, lately -- kick the phlebotomist for having to hunt up a vein and stick the needle in multiple times instead of getting it right the first time. The nurses call it hunt & peck. Yes, I think kicking the phlebotomist four times is entirely reasonable. I hope many of them get to see the film.