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Film Review – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

2 min read

Jack Ryan- Shadow Recruit is a reboot of the Tom Clancy series that saw several other A-list Hollywood actors in the lead role including Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. In the latest installation, Jack Ryan is reborn as a post 9/11 war vet injured in Afghanistan who catches the eye of a CIA recruiter (Kevin Costner) because of some operational reports he wrote while serving in the war.  While recovering from his injuries, he is recruited to be a covert CIA operative working on Wall Street trying to root out economic terrorists. And of course, that’s exactly what he finds.

Unlike the other Jack Ryan movies (Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Sum of All Fears), Shadow Recruit isn’t based on a Tom Clancy novel, just the character itself. The writing team has some good credits that include Mission-Impossible, Jurassic Park, and Spider-Man, but the result is a fairly formulaic CIA thriller. As you would expect, Jack Ryan uncovers a Russian conspiracy by an evil corporate head (actor/director Kenneth Branagh) with a grudge against the US to create a terrorist attack directly on Wall Street. The result, he hopes, will trash the entire US economy and make him kazillions of dollars in the process by having perfect insight into the timing of the attack. What follows is the typical sequence of breaking into a highly-secure office building, stealing data, the kidnapping of Jack Ryan’s girlfriend (played by Keira Knightley), car chases through Moscow, getting instant answers to all their questions using CIA super computers, etc.

Jack Ryan

Shadow Recruit holds few surprises, though it does ratchet up the action a notch compared to the other films. There is a bit of cat and mouse, but not a high level of intrigue and the story is fairly linear and simple.  The main objective seems to be to lay a foundation for future films by transitioning the Jack Ryan character from more of an informant to an all-out CIA operative, and introduce the new actor (Chris Pine).  Very different from other actors who have played the role, I think his casting choice is an indication of the future direction of the franchise as having more action, and in that case I think he works well and should please audiences who favour action films. Otherwise, Shadow Recruit isn’t a bad movie; it’s just a very standard, formulaic CIA action thriller reminiscent of a million other CIA action films.

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