Jack Ryan is very much the face of the Tom Clancy novels that you see in the movies, and even though the actors have changed and the franchise isn’t as storied as James Bond, the character itself has continued to thrive. From Alex Baldwin, Harrison Ford, to Ben Affleck and now Chris Pine, one way or another an actor will have to portray America’s most patriotic spy from an-end-of-the-world-scenario .
So just as every generation has their Bond, so does every generation have their Jack Ryan. For as long as their is a plot to destroy America, Jack Ryan will be there to stop it using his wits and skills, not gadgetry, cars, or hot women. And that’s part of the appeal of the character. Hit the jump to read the full review.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit takes us back to the origins of the titular character and how he came to work for the CIA. Pine takes over the role as Ryan an eager recruit who dropped out of his studies to fight in Afghanistan after the events of 9/11. But Ryan doesn’t flex his muscles or shoot targets with pin point accuracy, instead he devises strategies and studies enemy patterns. Unfortunately these go unnoticed which lead to a near fatal accident that nearly gets him and his crew killed.
Months after the accident, CIA agent William Harper (Kevin Costner), impressed by his work in Afghanistan, recruits him into the CIA to help infiltrate corporations who seek to bring America down via economics. His undercover work may have taken a couple of years but Ryan may have found that the Russians are behind the plot to put America into a kind of financial crisis that would make the Great Depression look like a tiny bank discrepancy.
Ryan’s problem is not only to keep US and Russia’s shaky relationship on a friendly level, but he must keep secrets from his fiance, Dr. Cathy Muller (Keria Knightley).
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a spy thriller through and through. The tactics of passing along information, staying discrete, hacking, stalling, this iteration of Jack Ryan has all the necessary ingredients of a great spy thriller. With the pacing of the film at a non-stop level, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit almost feels too real and not as if it were shot on a stage. Which is surprising considering we how much director Kenneth Branagh loves to shoot on a stage. So along the predictable shaky cam, and uneven hand-to-hand combat action sequences, we get these awkward shots and camera pans of Viktor Cherevin’s (Branagh) corporate office and high tech evil lair.
And as exciting as Adam Kozad and David Koepp’s script is, it’s hard to remember the series of events that lead us to each point in the story. That being said, once we get well into the second act, the film finds it’s momentum by giving us a chase sequence and an elaborate flooding tunnel fight scene that makes the film a gratifying watch.
But much of that confusion has to do with the 105 running time that the film has. But the short runtime doesn’t necessarily hurt the development of certain characters. We see that Harper and Chervein are both driven patriots and an ideologists, but on opposite ends of the coin. Costner is brooding confidence and has a cool demanor that demands attention, which suggests that had he been offered the Jack Ryan role, he would have taken it. Branagh completely hams it up as the deadly Russian, but who doesn’t do that with a Russian villain role.
The only character who seems to suffer here is Cathy. While she is willing to put herself in danger, her character seems to be doing it out of convenience and inability to trust. Her suspicions of Ryan cheating on her may not have been true, but it was those same suspicions that got her into the trouble she gets into in the film. Plus what kind of operative as high ranking as Harper would allow a civilian to be put into a situation like that. He may say that it isn’t couples counseling in the movie, but him doing that makes it seem like it.
When it is all said and done, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a fine addition to the Jack Ryan film franchise, and should it do well enough at the box office, I’m sure that we will see more Jack Ryan films in the near future.