Review: ‘Jack Strong’ brings true Cold War thriller to life

Patrick Wilson plays CIA operations officer David Forden in "Jack Strong."

Patrick Wilson plays CIA operations officer David Forden in “Jack Strong.”

(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Fans of Cold War novelists John le Carré and Tom Clancy should warm up to “Jack Strong,” a gripping political thriller based on the exploits of Ryszard Kuklinski, a high-ranking Polish army officer who shared top-secret Soviet documents with the CIA between 1972 and 1981.

Effectively written and directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski, the Polish- and English-language film stars Marcin Dorocinski as Kuklinski (code name: Jack Strong), a colonel who had played a significant role in the Warsaw Pact 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Concerned that Moscow’s martial law plans and nuclear weapon strategies could ignite a firestorm between the Soviets and NATO, with Poland potentially becoming another Hiroshima in the process, Kuklinski starts passing along strategic military information to CIA operations officer David Forden (Patrick Wilson).


Naturally, there’s a personal cost incurred with Kuklinski’s daring deeds, and as Poland’s counterintelligence factions realize there’s a mole in their midst, filmmaker Pasikowski proceeds to turn the screws ever more tightly, with the resulting tension beginning to register on the face of the film’s tight-lipped protagonist.

With its solid performances, nice attention to period detail and a foreboding rumble of a symphonic score by Jan Duszynski, “Jack Strong” adds a unique Eastern Bloc POV to the enduring Cold War movie arsenal.


‘Jack Strong’

No MPAA rating.

Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes.

Playing: Opens Saturday at Arena Cinema, Hollywood.


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