Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

jackryanshadowrecruit

Most recently released in 2002 starring Ben Affleck in the title role, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is simultaneously a reboot of and sequel to the previous entries in the Jack Ryan film franchise. This 2014 entry features Chris Pine in the titular role of Jack Ryan, as Kenneth Branagh pulls double duty as director and main antagonist. Kiera Knightley and Kevin Costner also star in supporting roles. This is the first film in the Jack Ryan series to not be based on a book by the late Tom Clancy.

+ Chris Pine as the titular Jack Ryan was a refreshing change from the big, brutish soldier archetype, and Pine was believable, in many ways, to go between some minor asskicking and then jump behind a computer
+ Kenneth Branagh as director and main antagonist Viktor Cherevin was, as always, excellent. Cherevin is smooth and calculated, but as most Branagh characters is more than a one dimensional character. Something about Branagh as an actor has always come across, to me, as very underrated. His directing is again, as always, superb
+ supporting characters Kiera Knightley (as nurse Cathy Muller, Ryan’s girlfriend) and Kevin Costner (as CIA official Thomas Harper) were both used sparingly, but in many ways that helped keep the focus on Pine’s Ryan, rather than let the love-interest or boss get in the way too much. However, both get at least one scene to shine, and do so wonderfully
+ the action itself is kept quite minimal, with the main tension coming from the threat of being caught doing something bad technology wise. That is not to say there is not an awesome fight scene near the beginning, just that Ryan is not as much John Wick as he is Tank, from The Matrix

– Ryan, with a (seemingly very serious) broken back early in the film, is able to recover enough to be a super spy? There is a line between suspension of disbelief, and ‘making stuff up’ (though, yes, I know, people recover from back injuries blah blah)
– similarly, the main plot of crashing the US market doesn’t make much sense, when you take into account how important the US selling Chinese products is. Basically, even if the bad guys (aka the Russians) win (which they very well might – watch the movie!), it doesn’t really hurt the US as much as it does the entire world
– the switch in focus of antagonists after the second act of the film was a strange choice, as there was no personal beef between Ryan and this new bad-guy

> I can’t say whether the hacking was entirely ‘realistic’, but it was certainly better than the way many films and television show portray it, with flashing boxes and furious typing.

Should you see this film: Whilst I don’t think this will ever be considered a game-changer for the spy-thriller genre, something about this film was strangely compelling. Pine, Knightley and in particular Branagh make this worth at least one watch.

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