Reel Freak

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Reel Review – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)


Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the latest movie installment featuring Tom Clancy’s fictional CIA agent character Jack Ryan.  This time around, Chris Pine steps into the shoes of the eponymous character; previously filled by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Ben Affleck.  Alongside Pine are supporting roles from Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, as well as the film’s director Kenneth Branagh.  Shadow Recruit fails to be anything we haven’t seen before, frequently drawing from the cliches of countless secret agent thrillers before it.  

Shadow Recruit follows Jack Ryan (Pine), who, after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, decides to join the Marines to serve his country.  When he is involved in a tragic helicopter crash while on duty, he is crippled and must go through nearly a decade of physical therapy.  He is approached by a man named Thomas Harper (Costner), who works for the CIA.  Harper wants Ryan to finish his duty by working on Wall Street in order to figure out any terrorist activity through their finances.  Ryan falls in love with his physical therapist Cathy (Knightley) and they have a long-term relationship together, before he is sent to Moscow on a mission to investigate the accounts of a Russian bad guy named Cherevin (Branagh).  Ryan soon discovers that Cherevin plans to kill him, and must figure out a way to stop him and his plot to attack the U.S.


Like I said, this movie is pretty unoriginal; young CIA agent is sent on a mission he’s never experienced before to some place in Europe with a painfully cliche bad guy who’s plotting to take down the U.S. with a personal vendetta.  There aren’t many twists, causing the film to be consistently predictable.  Not to mention the final climax sequence.

Chris Pine does a fine job as the previously-established Jack Ryan character, who is sort of like a less-popular James Bond as far as multiple actors throughout the character’s history.  He’s one of the key elements which keeps the movie going.  On the other hand, Kevin Costner’s performance feels very blandly written, almost as if they were looking for a big-name actor to fill a  supporting role without much heart.

Keira Knightley gives a shot at an American accent, and plays the role of a typical woman who has no idea of her partner’s alter ego.  And in this case, director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) shows that his ability as an actor can outweigh his directing effort.  He gives a solid performance as a Russian villain who is a bit menacing and one of the characters you actually want to see more of while watching the movie.


Strong Points:

  • Continuation of a solid franchise after 12 years of inactivity
  • Solid performances by Chris Pine and Kenneth Branagh
  • A handful of action scenes that were entertaining while they lasted

Weak Points:

  • Choppy dialogue and a cliche, familiar story
  • Forced, unlikeable performances from Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner
  • Very predictable film overall with forced outcomes

Overall, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is pretty hit-or-miss.  Could be good for fans of the Action/Spy genre, but other than that, no need to dish out the money for admission, just wait for a rental.

My Rating: 5.5/10


Director: Kenneth Branagh, Rated: PG-13, Starring: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh


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