Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the fifth film in the series of films based on Tom Clancy’s character Jack Ryan, is a successful reboot and a fresh start to an already established franchise.  Chris Pine steps into the role of Jack Ryan, becoming the fourth actor to do so (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck were the previous three).  The film is not a straight adaption of a specific Clancy novel like the previous films, but a reboot using elements from all Jack Ryan stories.  Kenneth Branagh was brought in to direct, departing from his usual Shakespearean subject matter.  The writing team of Adam Cozad and David Koepp bring the character of Jack Ryan into a post 911 world, using the attacks to set up a career shift for Jack Ryan from economics to fighting in the war in Afghanistan.  After the war, Ryan is approached by William Harper (Kevin Costner) to join the CIA as an analyst in Wall Street.  While working as a junior analyst for the CIA’s Directorate Intelligence, he discovers a plot to collapse the dollar right after a terrorist attack on US soil.  His prime suspect is Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), a big time player in the Russian economic system.  After persuading suspicious girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightly) that he needed to travel alone, Jack Ryan sets out for Russia where things turn bad quick, and his job as an analyst becomes much much more than he signed up for.

JACK RYANUsing the 911 attacks as a catalyst for the start of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the world that is established is made to feel real.  911 was motivation for Jack Ryan to begin his career, and it is certainly still fresh in the audiences mind.  Along with using real world events, the films plot also feels real and believable, never going too far or over the top.  Using terrorism for profit is used time and again in our world, so seeing it in a movie feels natural.  Jack Ryan is just becoming a field agent from an analyst, so he is no James Bond or Jason Bourne.  Each time he’s is in a fight, you feel like it could go either way.  The fight scenes are shot well and truly show the tension that would be there if you were fighting for your life.

jack_ryan_shadow_recruit_02035264_st_8_s-highPresented in IMAX and other large screen formats, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has a huge scope and feel.  The story is large in scope, but isn’t over done with too many gun battles and other unnecessary action scenes.  The architecture and color schemes in the interiors are put together to stand out to the eye.  Branagh used wide angle shots in the interior, which complemented the architecture and was very visually appealing.  Having a movie in IMAX but not shot in 3D lets the audience enjoy the entire image without having to focus on whats being thrown at you.  The actors did their jobs well in the roles assigned.  Chris Pine and Keira Knightley had good chemistry, and whether it was Branagh or Kevin Costner as the third wheel, the scenes were fun to watch.  Some of the most tense scenes are between Keira Knightley and Kenneth Branagh, with Branagh as the very intimidating dying Russian with nothing to lose.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit did a good job building the tension throughout the first two thirds of the film.  They started with the believable premise and a new active CIA field agent, but by the end of the film they didn’t seem to know how to end what they had built up.  As is often the case in action films, the third act was not as strong and hurt the film a bit overall.  Besides a weaker third act and taking itself overly serious, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a fun action film that looks great in IMAX.  The plot is simple, but interesting and complex enough to keep you interested.  Chris Pine had some big shoes as the new Jack Ryan, and did a good job stepping in.  Depending on how audiences respond, Pine may have another series on his hands.  All-in-all, Shadow Recruit is a smart action thriller that is aesthetically pleasing and fun to watch.

JACK RYANJack Ryan: Shadow Recruit stars Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, and is playing in on Video on Demand (VOD) now.

About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.