johnlink ranks JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014)

I was just talking about this movie and it fell into my lap. While excited by Jack Ryan being back on screen, this felt like it could be a little generic. On the other hand, it was Directed By Kenneth Branagh, so it couldn’t be all bad, right?


I watched JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014) on 7.25.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

The Jack Ryan series has a varied history. The first three were all solid to very good. Alec Baldwin started in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. Harrison Ford carried it on, without interrupting the timeline, for PATRIOT GAMES and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. Then Ben Affleck took over for a reboot with THE SUM OF ALL FEARS. Now, we get another reboot (the third origin story in five movies) with the less than cleverly titled JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT starring Chris Pine.

This movie starts with a college-aged Jack Ryan seeing 9/11 and joining the Marines. He is shot down in Afghanistan and enters rehab where he meets future girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightley). He is recruited into the CIA by Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) for his financial analysis skills. He is eventually sent, undercover, to Russia where he meets financial terrorist Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh, who also directs the film). Things happen, and Ryan is forced to be a field agent as well as an analyst.

The movie is at its best when the tension picks up. A fight scene in a hotel room is solid, the stealing of company secrets is solid, and two late chases are very good.

The movie’s characters are slightly less impactful. Ryan has been repositioned as an action hero who is also smart, a sharp right turn from the previous films where he is only an action guy because he has to be. Branagh’s Cherevin is deliciously bad, even if his company ripping off Enron’s logo is a little too heavy-handed piece of foreshadowing. Cathy is a solid character, if a convenient one. Knightley is pretty good with the American accent, even if it often looks like it hurts her mouth to do it.

The script was an original piece which was repurposed into a Jack Ryan vehicle, and it feels like one. This is the first film not based on a Tom Clancy novel. That in and of itself is not a problem, but this does feel like a different character than the other films had established. That would not be an issue if he was a better character. But part of what made Jack Ryan such a different entity is that he wasn’t jumping motorcycles and drowning guys three times his size in an inch of water. The scene in PATRIOT GAMES when Ryan first springs into action in England is wonderfully awkward; a man not used to being in fights. In JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT the smarts seem to be afterthought.

None of that negatively impacts the entertainment derived from this film. Perhaps the character could have been more and could have been better, but the action sequences are wonderfully shot and full of suspense. You don’t spend this movie thinking of what could have been, but you might do it a little bit after the adrenaline rush goes away.




FINAL SCORE: 5.75 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on July 26, 2014.

4 Responses to “johnlink ranks JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014)”

  1. I wasn’t overly impressed with this film. Like you said, it’s pretty pretty generic. It felt to me that I had seen this film several times before and done better. Good review, John.

  2. If they decided to try and make a franchise out of this, I would totally be fine with that. However, sadly, it doesn’t seem likely. Good review John.

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