Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Movie Review

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is in theaters now.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is in theaters now.

Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy’s evergreen spy hero is back and he’s younger and tougher. Chris Pine has taken the mantle from Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck to an earlier time. He’s a young soldier recuperating in military hospital after being bombed out of the air by Taliban.

He captures the attention of Commander Harper (Kevin Costner) who studies him at the rehab centre and recognises his gifts – his will to push through adversity, his native smarts and his recent observations about air traffic over Afghanistan.

Ryan’s a one-of-a-kind, intelligent, intuitive, physically strong and driven as well as true blue loyal to the US of A.

The plot is a crowd pleaser, marrying 9/11 and the crash of 2008 in ways that are semi-believable. The attacks cemented Ryan’s desire to defend his country and figure in the future plot concerning a Russian attempt to once again attack New York and collapse the US, and thereafter the world’s economy.

In the regular world, Ryan works as a financial analyst and undercover he is now CIA, a spy under Harper, so he’s off to Moscow to investigate financial discrepancies for one boss and a dastardly plot for another.

Ryan has a worthy opponent t in Kenneth Branagh’s banking mogul Viktor Cherevin. Cherevin is smart and skilled in “war”, ruthless and innately, explosively violent; he is also under a death sentence from terminal disease. Makes him even more ruthless and a tougher enemy.

And then there is Keira Knightly as Ryan’s fiancée Kathy Muller. She is one of these people who shows up on doorsteps demanding to know what is going on as it applies to herself. His “absent” time for spying she interprets as time for an affair. So, not only does she show up unannounced in Moscow, she forces him to reveal his identity and then actually becomes his spy partner. What?

Well, whatever that is, she is useful as a trap for Cherevin, but she also makes Ryan vulnerable to her kidnap and death threats made against her. What a mess. She’s whiny and needy and always there while Ryan’s trying to do two extremely dangerous jobs.

Stories like these are heightened for drama, and who knows if they are accurate in the ways of spying? That if you have an urgent parcel, someone will show up and in a fleeting moment, take it from you, or that a car with help will show up in the nick of time or your Commander will suddenly appear when he’s thought to be thousands of miles away when you need intervention most,? And how about if you kill someone and crash up the bathroom then return a few hours later to find the room rebuilt and clean? Fun stuff!

It’s fast paced, edgy and thrilling, and edge-of-your set thrilling at a couple of points. Comedic and romantic moments share the screen with wickedly intense moments, so in all it’s a fun night at the movies. The story’s timely and Branagh directs with zest.

Plus we get to travel. There is a Russian operative in the American Mid-West, then there is London and Washington, and a tres chic Russia as Ryan gets to the bottom of the plot. Interesting things arise, like a mysterious man who could be connected to Cherevin’s son who provides a Boston bomber reference. And there’s an odd, elongated scene of a maid vacuums Ryan’s hotel hallway, reminiscent of Ginger Rogers in Once Upon a Honeymoon in which she hides from Nazis disguised as a maid. What did I tell you? It’s fun!

35 mm action thriller
Written by Adam Cozad, David Koepp based on Tom Clancy’s characters.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
In theatres now
MPAA: PG
Runtime: 105 minutes
Country: US / Russia
Language: English


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