Review of 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit'

shadow_recruit.jpg A reboot of the “Jack Ryan” franchise sees Chris Pine stepping into the shoes of CIA analyst “Jack Ryan” previously filled by Ben Affleck (“The Sum of All Fears”), Harrison Ford (“Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger”), and Alec Baldwin (“The Hunt for Red October”). “Shadow Recruit” tells the story of how the young Ryan attends the London School of Economics only to leave school to join the marines following the 9-11 atrocities in New York. Wounded in battle while recovering he is recruited by CIA's Thomas Harper (“Kevin Costner”) to be an undercover operative working in the financial industry. Later having sparked up a relationship with his physical therapist “Cathy Muller” (Keira Knightley) he discovers the massive currency holdings of a mysterious Russian company and in doing so uncovers a plot to destroy the American economy…

A film based on financial terrorism you would not to be terribly exciting but the tension is dialled up to 11 here. When the action does come it involves a lot of running and not really any set pieces that stand out (yeah, OK, the car/foot race through Moscow). Luckily the talk-talk is kept largely to a minimum with the focus here on the relationship of Ryan with Muller and how his role in the CIA fits in (the old chestnut of keeping a secret identity secret from even those you love). The lack of any attempt at humour really makes the whole thing feel a bit plastic and un-engaging - Are we really supposed to like these people? There is only so much the good looks of Pine can go to make him appealing to an audience.

Pine does tend to have a single expression and tone of voice but his look of innocent confusion works well here with a Jack Ryan that is just finding his way in the world and not the confident operative seen in later stories. Costner with a minimum amount of dialogue keeps the Harper character mysterious particularly with the penchant for always getting into the middle of things (at one point it looks like the whole of his department consists of him and 2 or maybe 3 other agents). Knightley is reasonable in a slightly more taxing role than the Pirate movies but her innocent character is a bit tiring here despite efforts to put a bit of spunk into the role.

Interesting reboot of the franchise though not exactly inspiring with a fairly boring story-line that, despite Branagh's best attempts, never really seems to have the drama needed to make us really care all that much. It's ok but, sadly, not much more.

Rating: “A bit better than average”

Review Date: 2018-10-28

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Year: 2014

Length: 105 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Kenneth Branagh: