We open up at the London School of Economics on September 11, 2011. Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is getting some sleep on a park bench on campus when he suddenly wakes up. He begins to walk through campus, noticing many of his fellow students talking in worried voices. Going inside a building, he sees the World Trade Center attacks on a television. This shakes Ryan to his core and leads him to a decision; he puts his economic degree on hold to enlist.
18 MONTHS LATER
It is now 2003 in Afghanistan. Ryan is in a helicopter with two of his fellow soldiers. Ryan (who is a Lieutenant) is talking to one his guys about football and they trade barbs about their favorite players. Ryan attempts to make a call to his superiors about some travel patterns he has noticed, and how he would like some higher ups to see it. However, the call disconnects. Ryan shakes his head over being ignored, saying he is just trying to help. His colleagues find out Ryan actually volunteered for active duty instead of analytical work. Ryan says that when he enlisted, he meant to really “enlist.” As Ryan tries to help one his guys with his seatbelt, an RPG hits the helicopter. It causes the helicopter to go down.
Cut to an army hospital. Ryan is alive but barely. He has two broken vertebrate in his back among other injuries. Despite this, he was able to save two of his men from the wreckage. His doctor tells his co-workers that they have to transport Ryan to another hospital within the next 90 minutes if Ryan is to walk again. They wheel him away and the doctor notes Ryan’s fight in the war is over.
Later, we see Ryan at Walter Reed Medical center learning to walk again. It is not going well, and his doctor is the “tough love” type. It turns out his helper is a 3rd year medical student named Cathy Fuller (Keira Knightley). Cathy tries to give him encouragement and make realize Ryan he is lucky to have his legs. Ryan realizes this immediately, as he looks to a veteran that has to wear a prosthetic leg. Ryan pulls himself off the ground and steadies himself. In a higher floor watching him, Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) sees Ryan and tells his doctor he wants to meet him soon.
Ryan meets Harper, who is dressed in a full naval uniform and calls himself Commander Harper. Harper thanks Ryan for his service and mentions his dissertation paper and the travel pattern memos he wrote in Afghanistan that were basically ignored by the higher ups. Ryan asks him how he could’ve known about those. As Harper goes to leave, he leans back and whispers, “I’m in the CIA.”
Later that night, Ryan is about to go running outside in the pouring rain when he sees Cathy about to leave. Ryan congratulates her for her work with him and says goodbye since their work together is done. Ryan begins to flirt with her and offers to take her to dinner. Cathy tells him when he can run out of the building on his own, they will go to dinner and they will split the check. They say their goodbyes.
Ryan begins to run around the outside only to see Harper watching him. Ryan thinks Harper works for another division, but Harper tells him he actually is CIA. Ryan asks what he wants. Harper wants him to go back to school to finish his PH.D in economics. Then they will recruit him as a financial analyst. He will work undercover in Wall Street firms to discover money trails that link to terrorism so they can prevent future attacks.
Cue Title Sequence.
New York City. 10 years later. Ryan is working at a financial firm, while secretly tracking their data. He sees his coworker Teddy Hefferman (Seth Ayott) outside that has just bought a motorcycle. Ryan tells him the name of the girl he likes is Sarah (Teddy bought the motorcycle to impress her). Ryan sets it up so Teddy can help Sarah out with a task and thus give Teddy an in with her. Ryan goes to work and finds some Russian accounts that cannot be accessed. This is a huge red flag for him. He sets up a meet with a CIA contact at a movie theatre.
Cut to U.N. Headquarters. The U.S. and Russian diplomats are sparring over an oil pipeline proposal in Turkey. The U.S. diplomat says they will not give support to it. The Russian diplomat tells him that his country will consider that an economic war attack.
Ryan meets his contact at a movie theatre showing “Sorry, Wrong Number” and briefly explains the data. The contact says Harper will want him to go to Russia. Ryan dismisses this, saying he is just an analyst. “He’ll want you,” the contact says before leaving.
Cathy comes home to the apartment she and Ryan share. Ryan is not there. He is running in the city. Cathy gets out of the shower to find Ryan still isn’t home. She folds up his pants and finds a movie stub in the pocket. Cathy begins to get suspicious.
At dinner, Cathy notices Ryan is watching the news intently about the Turkey pipeline. Cathy asks if he wants to go see a movie this weekend and Ryan agrees. She suggests “Sorry, Wrong Number” and Ryan agrees to it.
Moscow, Russia. We see Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) sit in a chair while a physician readies him for an injection. The physician screws up the injection twice however, so Viktor smacks him across the head then kicks him several times on the ground. As a guard drags the man away, Viktor picks up the syringe and effortlessly injects himself. We see several tattoos that run up his arm. Viktor gets a call saying the Russian minister, Sorokin, wants to meet him.
Viktor meets him in an isolated part of forest as they discuss their plan. Sorokin asks if he moved the assets yet and Viktor says he has. Sorokin notes that the Kremlin cannot have any knowledge of what he is doing, so this operation is completely off the books. Viktor says he understands.
Ryan goes to his Wall Street boss, Rob Behringer (Colm Feore) and shows him the accounts, saying it appears he will have to go to Russia to do an audit just to be sure their clients aren’t stealing from them. Behringer allows it, but reminds Ryan that the Russians play by different rules than they do, and that he better not sabotage their best client.
Cathy hears about his trip and wants to join him, but Ryan deflects saying he will be working all the time. Cathy then counters that she could go to Paris and then meet him there when he is done with his business. Ryan continues to deflect. Cathy asks when they can go on vacation together. Ryan half jokes they can have a vacation (their honeymoon) when they get married. Cathy and Ryan fight about his job and his not being there for their relationship. After they both cool down, Ryan tells her he will meet her in Paris after his work is done.
Ryan travels to Moscow, and is met at the airport by Embee Deng (Nonso Anozie), a private security guard that works for Viktor Cherevin. They drive to the hotel and Ryan checks in. Deng comes with him, claiming he needs to check the room out. As Ryan looks at the view of the room, he notices Deng has a silenced handgun to his head via a window reflection. Ryan ducks just as Deng fires off a round through the glass window. Ryan ducks behind a round table and rolls it as cover to the bedroom. Deng continues to fire but Ryan evades him as he ducks into the bathroom.
Realizing there are two doors in, Ryan shuts the other one as Deng fires through it. Deng kicks it open as Ryan hides in the shower. Deng fires several rounds through the curtains then pulls them back and finds nothing. However, Ryan had squeezed himself onto the roof and swings down to surprise Deng. They struggle, breaking several things in the room. Ryan eventually causes Deng to crash his head through a bidet. Deng tries to garrote Ryan but Ryan gets a hand on his gun and fires it close to Deng’s ears, deafening him temporarily. Ryan tries to shoot but the gun is out of bullets. He is then forced to strike Deng with it and they fall near the tub. Ryan turns on the water and holding Deng down, is forced to drown him. Ryan picks up the gun, afraid someone else is there but eventually drops it after wiping the prints. He leaves the hotel room.
Ryan travels to a bell tower and makes a secure call and explains his situation. The voice on the line tells him to go back to the room and wait till the phone rings twice then leave. A cleaner crew will take care of the body. He is then to go radio silent then meet a contact at a location at 930 Russia time. Ryan cannot remember the location and has to break protocol somewhat to find out the address. The voice on the phone tells him the address. To calm him down, the voice reminds Ryan of his Marine training and tells him he can handle the pressure. The voice then disconnects the call.
Ryan goes back to the room and looks at Deng’s body. The hotel phone rings twice. Ryan leaves the hotel.
Ryan calls Cathy (who had tried to call during his secure call) and tells her he just landed. She tells him a co-worker can cover for her so she can get an earlier flight to Paris. However, Ryan is paranoid about being followed and not wanting her to get involved in his mess, stalls her. Ryan tells her he is tired and he will call her the next day. “I love you desperately,” Ryan tells her, “Don’t lose faith in me.” They hang up.
The meeting place is Staraya Square, a nearby park. His contact turns out to be Harper. They discuss having to kill someone; Harper relates that his first kill was an innocent woman who made the mistake of startling him during an operation. Harper tells Ryan that he will eventually get pass it.
Ryan explains what he thinks the bank accounts are for. The U.S. dollar is technically weak, but it has been steadily going up in the stock market. Viktor’s companies has set deals up that work with the dollar, but in actuality are comprised to collapse the U.S. dollar. Harper balks saying Russia would be hurt in the process. Ryan shakes his head. The U.S. would be hurt badly by this. China would be hit even worse. Russia would recover however because of they have massive oil reserves. At first, it would seem like a U.S. problem but in time it would become a 2nd Great Depression that would affect countries globally.
Harper directs Ryan to go about his business with Viktor’s company officially as not to arouse suspicion. Harper tells Ryan he is no longer just an analyst. “You’re operational now,” Harper tells him, giving him a pistol.
Ryan goes back to his hotel. Everything is fixed. He sends an “I love you” text to Cathy. She returns it.
We see Viktor in church, praying that Russia and his family will be avenged. He leaves the church and gets a call telling him “everything is in place.” Viktor tells them to “Let it begin.”
Ryan goes to Viktor’s building and meets with Viktor’s assistant and notices the layers of security in the building. Ryan meets with Viktor and notices several things in his office; a grenade in a glass case and a large picture of Napolean at the battle of Waterloo. Viktor asks if Ryan is jet lagged, as “It can be brutal,” (he obviously ordered Deng to kill him). Ryan replies that he “survived.”
Ryan continues with his narrative, saying he came to do an audit of the accounts he found. Viktor counters that Ryan came for nothing as they have just sold those companies that were linked to the accounts, and have already transferred the commissions to his firm. Ryan realizes that Viktor is thinking three moves ahead. Ryan continues his guise, apologizing for wasting his time and offering to take him to dinner at a fantastic restaurant across the street. Viktor declines but asks to take Ryan, and his wife. Ryan is confused, but Viktor tells him Cathy has arrived in Moscow. Ryan says she is his fiancée. Viktor says that is even better and invites them both. He tells Ryan he will send them a driver, since Deng has gone mysteriously “missing.” Before he leaves, Ryan is also introduced to Dimitri Lemkov (Peter Andersson), Viktor’s head of security.
Ryan is able to evade one of Viktor’s men and gets into a van with Harper and his team. He discusses what they will need to look for, only to realize he is the one that will have to break into the office of Dimitri. Harper tells him to calm himself; they just need to get in Viktor’s office and use the power grid to break in Dimitri’s system.
Ryan returns to his room where Cathy has found the gun Harper gave him. Cathy tells him that he needs to tell her the truth NOW. Ryan admits that he works for the CIA. Cathy gives him a hug, relieved. She thought he was having an affair.
Viktor is in his office taking a call. He gives orders to activate the asset.
Dearborn, Michigan. A family goes to church. The “Son”, Aleksandar (Alec Utgoff) is the main asset. When they see that the sermon is from “Lamentations” they realize they have been activated for their mission.
The “family” goes home and burns all their identifications and anything else that can be traced to them. Aleksandar notes he has one last loose end to tie up. Someone he noticed at the church. Aleksandar goes out for a walk where he sees the same man following him. He doubles back and confronts the man at his car, asking if he is lost. In a quick flash, he pulls out a knife and slits the man’s throat. Getting in the car, Aleksandar searches the man’s pockets and finds an FBI badge.
Ryan, Cathy, and Harper are in the hotel room discussing the fact that they now need her to run their con. Cathy and Ryan argue about his dishonesty when Harper shuts them up. “This is geopolitics, not marriage counseling,” Harper says firmly. He reminds Ryan of the countless lives at stake and that they might not get away from this alive. Harper tells Cathy she has to keep Viktor occupied for about 10 minutes so Ryan can break into his office.
Ryan and Cathy are driven to the restaurant. Ryan says she forgot her engagement ring, and gives it to her to put on as they need to look engaged. Cathy flashbacks to the morning that Ryan asked her to marry him.
Harper watches Viktor’s building and notices Dimitri is leaving for the night.
Ryan and Cathy meet Viktor for dinner. For their act to work, Ryan drinks a lot and acts like a total asshole, eventually being told by Cathy to go walk off his drunken stupor. That leaves her to charm Viktor while Ryan goes to work. Thanks to one of his fellow agents pick pocketing Viktor earlier, Ryan has his keycard which he uses to get into the building.
Cathy begins to charm Viktor with talk of Russian literature.
Ryan gets to Viktor’s office and begins to tap into the files.
Cathy and Viktor get into a discussion about the ending of a particular book, with Cathy saying it was about dying without regret. Viktor says that is impossible unless he did something that his children would have been proud of. “Would have?” Cathy asks, realizing none of Viktor’s children are apparently alive.
Dimitri is driving when he realizes that his computer is being breached. He calls Viktor’s assistant and tells her to find Viktor and shut the building down.
Cathy bluntly asks Victor how bad his liver is. She guesses it from the yellow tinge in his skin, and the veins in his hands. She guesses he has Stage 3 liver cancer. Viktor confirms it, saying he was told he has 3 months to live.
Ryan is running out of time and needs a file override code, so he calls his other boss Behringer who gives it to him. Ryan is able to get the rest of the files just in time to evade security. Harper directs him to a hidden private elevator which he takes down. As he walks down an outside staircase, Harper snipes two guards that almost intercept Ryan. Ryan escapes down the stairs and hands the files and Viktor’s wallet off to two agents.
Viktor is found by his assistant, who tells him to check his phone. Viktor notices a “Code Red” like message. He looks at Cathy with a cold glare. Going back to the office he is bumped by one of Ryan’s fellow agents. As Ryan reunites with Cathy like nothing happened, Dimitri asks Viktor for his wallet, which is now back in his possession. Ryan apologizes for his “behavior” and leaves with Cathy. Viktor doesn’t buy his act for one second. “Have them followed,” Viktor tells his men.
Dimitri looks at the security feed and tells Viktor he was played with his weaknesses; vodka, vanity and women. “Your son would be ashamed,” Dimitri tells him. Enraged by the insult, Viktor shoots Dimitri dead then strangely unscrews the light bulb from his desk lamp.
Ryan, Harper, Cathy and the CIA team are at a safe house location about to decode the information when Viktor’s men crash the party, killing a few agents and kidnapping Cathy. Harper and his men kill a few of Viktor’s men in turn. Ryan and another agent get in a car and pursue Viktor’s men.
Ryan had put a tracker in Cathy’s ring and when she is able to put it on, Ryan is able to track her. Harper directs Ryan as he tries to catch up to her. Meanwhile, Viktor’s men stop for a moment so Viktor can join them. He calls Ryan and tells him if he transmitted the files he will kill Cathy horribly. He begins to speak of nerve pressure points in the neck that cause the mouth to be unable to close. He then takes out the light bulb he took from Dimitri’s office and threatens to put in Cathy’s mouth when he pinches the nerve; he will then release it, causing her to break the glass in her mouth causing numerous internal injuries that will lead to a horrific, painful death. He then mentions to Ryan he will not let his son and himself die for nothing.
Ryan is finally able to catch up to the van and causes the driver to crash when he smashes a pipe into the window. He and the agents grab Cathy as a dazed Viktor watches. Viktor tells Ryan the attack cannot be stopped, and Ryan gets in a quick sucker punch before having to leave.
Ryan, Cathy, Harper, and the team get on a plane trying to decipher the plan. Ryan tells Harper that he realizes that the attack will happen at 9:00 a.m. the next day. The attack needs to happen first so Viktor can then use the terror in the market to short sell the U.S. dollar. Finding information on the asset, Ryan realizes that Aleksandar is actually Viktor’s son; he had faked his death and placed him with a sleeper family, sacrificing their familial relationship for this mission. They notice that Aleksandar never left Dearborn but his “parents” did, taking photos of New York City. Cathy recognizes one of the photos as the building where Ryan works. Ryan and Harper realize that Viktor plans to hit downtown Manhattan, more specifically Wall Street.
Back in Michigan, the FBI storms the home where Aleksandar live but find nothing. Meanwhile, Aleksandar goes back to work and murders his boss when he makes inquiries about where he is in trouble or not. Aleksandar then steals a van.
Ryan looks at Aleksandar’s death certificate and tracks the doctor who signed it to a house in Pennsylvania. They realize that is where he is. We see Aleksandar painting his van.
The plane lands and Cathy and Ryan separate for the time being. Ryan and Harper head in a helicopter to New York City. Back in Pennsylvania, the FBI storms the house but they are too late. Aleksandar is already gone.
We see Viktor in his office. His broker is asking if he wants to sell as he is getting close to the margin call. Viktor says not yet.
Ryan and Harper, along with local cops, are shutting down and evacuating Wall Street. Only ESU vehicles are allowed in. Ryan realizes something is off and begins to inspect the ESU vehicles. He sees one go by with runny paint. He realizes it is Aleksandar with the bomb. Seeing Teddy with his motorcycle, Ryan asks to borrow it and chases after Aleksandar.
Ryan contacts Harper, telling him he realizes that Aleksandar’s plan is to take the bomb underneath the building. Aleksandar travels into a tunnel system with Ryan giving pursuit. Harper learns that if Aleksandar detonates the bomb in the convection chamber underneath the building he will take out six and completely decimate Wall Street.
Ryan is still giving chase in the tunnels when Aleksandar suddenly breaks the van to make Ryan crash into it. Ryan is dazed and Aleksandar drives into the chamber. He sets the bomb, but is then caught in a fist fight with Ryan who stalls him as the bomb continues to tick down. Harper and his men realize where they are but by the time they get there, the van is gone.
Viktor is in his office still waiting for the confirmation that the attack happened before he sells. “Please Aleksandar…” he says to himself.
Ryan has driven the van out of the chamber and is looking for the quickest route to water before the bomb blows. As he drives, Aleksandar is still in the back seat trying to arm the bomb manually, trying to salvage the mission. Ryan rigs the wheel with a seatbelt, and tears the motherboard away from Aleksandar and fights him. As they travel up to an upper level parking garage, Ryan and Aleksandar dangle out near the back of the van. Seeing they are about to go over the edge, Ryan rolls out just before it goes over. The van hits the water, and the bomb goes off harmlessly, the only casualty being Aleksandar. The attack has failed.
We cut to Viktor in his office looking at his Napoleon painting. His plan has failed, and it has cost him the one thing he cared for most; the son he gave away as a soldier for the good of the motherland. He gets a call from Sorokin, requesting to meet. Viktor knows exactly what it means.
Viktor heads to the same secluded stretch of forest. Sorokin rolls by in SUV. Viktor accepts his fate (he’s dead anyway). “It was always for Russia,” he tells Sorokin. “So is this,” Sorokin says back. A passenger in Sorokin’s SUV fires a single shot into Viktor’s chest as they drive by. Viktor collapses to the ground, dead. Since Viktor failed and to ensure Russia’s full deniability in the matter, he has been executed by the government.
Cathy and Ryan reunite at her hospital. Ryan apologizes for bringing her into his world. “You didn’t pick this life. I did," Ryan says. Cathy reassures him saying, “But I picked you.”
A short while later, we see Harper and Ryan waiting outside the Oval Office (Ryan has a wedding ring, signifying he and Cathy finally got married). As they wait to be called in, Harper instructs Ryan to be direct with what he says and if the President doesn’t ask about something, then he is not to talk about it. As they are about to go in, Harper asks if Ryan can get rid of his Boy Scout grin. “Never,” Ryan says.
Harper and Ryan go inside the Oval Office. The President asks for his name. “Ryan, sir,” Ryan says.
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