“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” Movie Review

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” Review

The Jack Ryan Franchise began in 1990 with the “The Hunt For Red October,” and since then, the Tom Clancy generated character has been put through the ringer in terms of global political nightmares.  However, despite fairly consistent critical praise and decent box office showings, Paramount Pictures has had difficulty keeping their personal venture afloat.

In 1990, Alec Baldwin debuted as the charismatically intelligent CIA agent, and following in his footsteps was Harrison Ford in 1992 and 1994 in “Patriots Games” and “Clear and Present Danger” respectfully.  After an eight-year hiatus, Jack Ryan reemerged to be portrayed by Ben Affleck in “The Sum of All Fears,” however despite poor reception; the idea of a sequel was squashed.  However, despite the bumpy road of the franchise due to inconsistent casting and long vacant periods, Jack Ryan has found himself once again on the silver screen.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is headlined by Christopher Pine, the actor who is now most known for his portrayal of Captain James T. Kirk in the J.J. Abrams “Star Trek” reboots.  Pine plays the part of Ryan, and similar to form of the former films, it’s up him to save the world for global terrorist catastrophe.

This reboot begins directly after the Sept. 11 attacks, and follows Ryan as events and circumstances place him within the grasps of CIA Operative William Harper, who is played by Kevin Costner.  Before long, it’s discovered that power-hungry, American-hating Russians are planning an attack on American soil, and naturally, Ryan finds himself in the position to save the United States.

Pine does a fine job playing the lead role, but others around him lack the energy and vibrancy of the 33 year old.  Costner flops around on the screen like a dead fish, showing no sense of emotion or enthusiasm to his part.  One may say that such was the direction of the director Kenneth Branagh, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not Harper actually has an inch of true patriotism.

Kiera Knightley plays the part of Cathy Muller, Ryan’s girlfriend in the film.  Despite being able to pull off a fairly impressive American accent, the British star sags below her acting ability due to a shallow script and uninspiring character arc.  “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” flows nicely as a whole until a classic damsel in distress moment featuring Muller drags it drastically off the rails.

The most thrilling sequence of the film is also the lone scene where Knightley shines.  In an effort to help her lover complete a mission, Muller must converse and flirt with Viktor Cherevin, the antagonist planning the aforementioned terrorist plot.  With his maniacal evil stare and devilishly cool shady charisma, Cherevin is the best character in the movie, and none other than the director Kenneth Branagh plays him.

Overall, “Jack Ryan: Shadow” recruit is a solid movie; it’s worth the watch for fans of the genre, but whether or not it earns the right to a sequel is to be seen.  There are moments where fans of the older Jack Ryan films can be proud of, but cliché romantic moments and rampant expected heroism derail a motion picture that had the ability to become, what is now uncommon, a successful box office political thriller.

Stanko Rating: C+

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