Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Release date: January 17, 2014
Running time: About 105 minutes
Starring: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Alec Utgoff
Who to see it with: Your friend who really liked The Sum of All Fears


Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is Paramount's attempt to reboot Tom Clancy's main character after 2002's The Sum of All Fears. In Shadow Recruit, Jack's story is completely retold with a more modern setting and crises. Jack, a recently recruited CIA analyst is sent to Russia to track down some suspicious transactions, hoping to follow the money to an imminent attack. Obviously, his adventure quickly puts him in dangerous situations he's not trained for and he has to use his quick wits and military skills to survive. 

The Jack Ryan character has been played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and now Chris Pine. Pine does an admirable job as Ryan but his character develops strangely. He plays a brilliant economist / marine well, and he comes off as a generally likable character, but he goes from green recruit to badass a little too quickly for me. The refreshing part of the movie is seeing Kevin Costner back on screen. He does a great job as Ryan's mentor and an old player in the spy game. Kenneth Branagh is sinister as a cold, ruthless Russian businessman but unfortunately, Keira Knightley's performance just doesn't grab you.

Although Shadow Recruit's strongest aspect is probably the performances (especially seeing Costner back on screen), but the plot is probably the weakest. The movie starts off trying to lay the groundwork of Ryan as an all-American hero and new CIA recruit. However, once the film goes to Russia, the plot kind of falls off the deep end. The scenarios and situations become pretty unbelievable and too Hollywood for my liking. Ryan's character, who was well developed and defined by his limitations, suddenly becomes a super agent overnight. It's sad because this could have been an interesting story, having him solve situations using his wits and limited by his physical issues, but the movie resorts to typical Hollywood tropes. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit should probably go back to the Farm before taking on its next mission.


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