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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - Movie Review


3 stars

Anyone tired of the reboot without reason?  If you’re not and like your money to support the generic, then Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the movie for you.  The uninspired title tells you everything you need to know about this flick.  The character has been dormant since Ben Affleck sent him to an early grave in 2002 with The Sum of All Fears but Hollywood never lets a good hero enjoy their rest – especially when there is money to be made.

If only Shadow Recruit was just a little more worthy of the marketing tag of Jack Ryan.  Yes, if only.  The script from Adam Cozad and David Koepp doesn’t have the intelligence of The Hunt for Red October and, without a Harrison Ford in the title role, the movie is just one long spy cliché after another.  With only one inspired scene (a wounded Ryan yanked into the operating room), most of this adventure is far too procedural.

This by-the-numbers spy thriller begins with Ryan (Chris Pine) witnessing the 9/11 attacks via television while at college.  He’s inspired then to serve his country.  Cut to his assignment in Afghanistan.  His helicopter is attacked.  He’s badly wounded and must learn to walk again with the help of Cathy Muller (Kiera Knightley).

A stranger – after watching his recovery from a distance – introduces himself as Mr. Shadowy Liberty and Justice-For-All himself.  Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) has a new role for Jack Ryan.  He wants him to be a covert analyst for the CIA.  Ryan accepts and it’s From Russia With Love for him and his girlfriend as they enter the high finance diabolicle scheme-minded world of Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh, who also directs this reboot).

Yes, like Iron Man 2, Salt, A Good Day to Die Hard, and Kick-Ass 2, the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming … again and again.  Improbable?  Certainly.  Conveinant?  Affirmative.  And that’s its biggest problem.  It takes its own story and setting for granted.  The ticking bomb.  The countdown.  The damsel in distress.  The smartass hero.  The villain.  All stereotypes of the format and all are here with absolutely nothing separating it from the pack.

The film is begging to be the starting point for a new series but Pine is not the dude for it.  His Captain Kirk is too present here.  He can do one or the other but bringing his particular set of skills to a role like Ryan’s just doesn’t work.  Costner helps out with the gravitas.  Branagh makes for a good performance but a rather stereotypical Bond-inspired villain.  Knightley, while talented, just doesn’t really gel as the interfering girlfriend who gets kidnapped and must be rescued by her man.

With the familiar Bourne-like score tick, tick, ticking away as the Paramount and Skydance logos flash on the screen, the filmmaker’s inspiration is a dead giveaway.  With Bourne missing, they need something to satisfy the spy in all of us.  The results, though, are as satisfying as The Bourne Legacy.  We'll accept it but we expected much better.

While competently directed by Branagh, the film feels too safe and too stale to really get audiences to embrace Pine as Tom Clancy’s hero.  Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit proves that the search for the new great white hope in action films for Hollywood should continue.


[tab title="Film Details"]

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language.
105 mins
: Kenneth Branagh
: Adam Cozad, David Koepp
Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley
: Action | Drama | Thriller
Trust No One
Memorable Movie Quote: "No. This is geopolitics, not couples therapy."
Paramount Pictures
Release Date:
January 17, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available

Synopsis: This original story follow a young Jack (Chris Pine) as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot. The story follows him from 9/11, through his tour of duty in Afghanistan, which scarred him forever, and into his early days in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the modern CIA where he becomes an analyst, under the guardianship of his handler, Harper (Kevin Costner). When Ryan believes he’s uncovered a Russian plot to collapse the United States economy, he goes from being an analyst to becoming a spy and must fight to save his own life and those of countless others, while also trying to protect the thing that's more important to him than anything, his relationship with his fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley).


[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

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