Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Jack ryan 3A Valiant Effort

3.5 stars

I think we can dare to say that Jack Ryan movies are quickly becoming the new James Bond movies (especially seeing how much the last few Bond installments sucked). The newest version of Jack Ryan takes us from 9/11 to present day, giving us Jack Ryan’s background and an action packed look into the world of terrorists’ finances.

In this installment, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) decides to get involved with national security after watching the twin towers burn on TV. He is shipped off to Afghanistan, and after being injured, is taken under the wing of Commander Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to join the CIA as an analyst. Luckily, we don’t have to watch too much analysis, because it isn’t long before Ryan is back in the field, as an undercover agent on Wall Street. There, he stumbles on a conspiracy based in Russia, designed to crash the US economy.

Director Kenneth Branagh manages a smooth controlled pace, despite the action. This is necessary when mixing action with conspiracy theories, as too many twists and cut aways could leave the viewer a little bit lost. The mix between action and information is good; however, the movie lacked some serious character development. [more…]

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Adam Cozad and David Koepp had their work cut out for them, as there was no novel to adapt this movie from. The screenwriters had to cobble together their own back-story the best they could. It results in an intriguing plot and a unique change of pace that makes Ryan seem a bit more intelligent than in other movies.

Chris Pine, famous for his role as Captain Kirk in the updated Star Trek franchise, was a reasonably good choice for Jack Ryan. Pine is a bit of a one trick pony and generally plays the same suave action stars with just a little bit of boy-next-door naïveté. The role of Jack Ryan fit him like a glove.

The main problems with the movie came from Kierra Knightly’s character. She plays Cathy Muller, a love interest so generic, she could have been played by a tree stump. Cathy is the med student, smiley supportive girlfriend….who suddenly goes wakadoodle stalkeresque when she believes Ryan is cheating on her and follows him on a super secret spy mission to Russia so she can eventually play the Damsel in Distress. Her character’s plot line is so cobbled together that it is not even remotely convincing. Frankly, when she was in trouble, I didn’t really care and I didn’t care if the bad guy killed her off. The character felt entirely unnecessary.

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The villain, Viktor Cherevin, is the juiciest character, which is probably why director Branagh saved the role for himself. Rather than being a stereotypical Soviet bent on world domination, he is an oddly sensitive man who believes that he is doing the world a favor by taking out America. It was a sympathetic way to look at a villain and kept him from becoming a Bond villain cliché.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a competent movie and a good effort. The right casting makes it come together and I think it is an effort that Tom Clancy would be proud of.

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