Movie Reviews

Movie Review – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit


It’s been over a decade since CIA agent Jack Ryan last graced our screens, and now he returns with an updated skill set and all manner of futuristic gadgetry to help him on his ever more increasingly dangerous missions. In a world where secret agents are constantly reinvented to keep pace with pop culture and technology, is there room for a franchise already dominated by Bond and Bourne??

The answer, thankfully, is yes. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a decent thriller that ticks all the right boxes, even if it doesn’t think outside of them for any great length. It looks sleek and elegant, with glittering shots of New York and Moscow and a pace that never flags, and in Chris Pine, it has found a lead who balances the intelligence and brutality of Jack Ryan perfectly.


When we meet Jack, he’s a graduate student at the London School of Economics on his way to completing his degree when the terrorist attacks of 9/11 force him to rethink his career path. A stint in Afghanistan with the Marines, and the resulting back injury leads him on a path to meeting Harper (Kevin Costner) who offers him a covert analyst job with the CIA. Ten years later, Jack is in the perfect position on Wall Street to notice that something wicked is brewing in Russia, and with the economy of the world at stake, Harper can’t afford to send anyone but Jack to Moscow in order to get to the truth and stop what could be the Second Great Depression.

The script has flashes of wit, and has been beautifully cast: Chris Pine projects intelligence and agility as the mysteriously youthful Ryan, a role previously played by Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Alec Baldwin. Keira Knightley has a playful lightness as his girlfriend, and Costner’s dry wit is perfect for the role of a guy who probably wishes he were still doing Ryan’s job.


The problem with the movie, surprisingly, is Kenneth Branagh, both in front of and behind the camera. He plays the Russian billionaire bad guy dead straight, sucking the fun out of what could have been a gloriously over the top role and his direction is so by-the-book, the film could really have been made by anyone who’s seen half a dozen cliché ridden action thrillers. To his credit though the movie looks great and the film makes full use of it’s globe trotting storyline, with sweeping shots of the cities and spot on pulses of action punctuating the story.

By the time the third act comes around you’ll have forgiven the movie most of it’s flaws. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has enough good ‘ol fashioned thrills and a solid, suspenseful adventure story that it deserves it’s place among the slew of spy thrillers that have topped the box office in recent years. A high tech, high octane reboot, heres hoping agent Jack Ryan will return.


 (Images courtesy Paramount, IMDb)


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