Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
  • Time: 105 min
  • Genre: Action | Mystery | Thriller
  • Director: Kenneth Branagh
  • Cast: Keira Knightley, Chris Pine, Kevin Costner


Based on the character created by bestselling author Tom Clancy, “Jack Ryan” is a global action thriller set in the present day. This original story follow a young Jack (Chris Pine) as he uncovers a financial terrorist plot. The story follows him from 9/11, through his tour of duty in Afghanistan, which scarred him forever, and into his early days in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the modern CIA where he becomes an analyst, under the guardianship of his handler, Harper (Kevin Costner). When Ryan believes he’s uncovered a Russian plot to collapse the United States economy, he goes from being an analyst to becoming a spy and must fight to save his own life andthose of countless others, while also trying to protect the thing that’s more important to him than anything, his relationship with his fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley).


  • Jack Ryan is the most famous character created by the American author Tom Clancy – he appeared in many of his novels and, prior to Shadow Recruit, was portrayed in four film adaptations: he was portrayed by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990), by Harrison Ford in both Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994), and by Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears (2002). Shadow Recruit is the reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise (and the only Jack Ryan movie not based on a previously published novel) and in the movie he’s portrayed by Chris Pine. Shadow Recruit is the first 2014 release I’ve seen this year, and I must say – we’re not off to a good start.

    Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is a student in London who, after witnessing the news of 9/11, enlists in the U.S. army. During one mission, his helicopter gets shot down and he gets badly injured. While he’s in rehabilitation, he meets the movie’s generic love interest, in the form of Doctor Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), and CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). Harper is amazed by Ryan and enlists him in the CIA. Ryan starts working undercover on Wall Street looking for signs of terrorism, or something. He soon finds out about a shady Russian company, led by Viktor Chereving (Kenneth Branagh), which plans to destroy the U.S. economy, or something.

    Let me start off by saying Shadow Recruit is apparently dedicated to the late Tom Clancy. I fear he’s turning in his grave right now because this movie is horrendous. Shadow Recruit’s biggest problem would be the script, which makes this spy action/thriller lack decent espionage scenes, interesting action scenes or noteworthy thrills. On top of all that, the dialogue is atrocious: it tends to go from being unbelievably cheesy to laughably bad. And speaking of laughably bad – Kevin Costner is absolutely horrible, his performance is an unlimited source of unintentional laughs. The only one who could challenge Kevin Costner for his ‘worst performance in the movie’ award is Keira Knightley; her character and performance were extremely annoying and boring. Chris Pine is unexpectedly OK as Jack Ryan – however, script-wise, he didn’t have much to work with.

    The movie’s best aspect is definitely Kenneth Branagh, but not as a director, mind you (the directing in the movie is dull and bland)! He is great as the charismatic Victor Chereving and he managed to overshadow everyone else in the movie with ease. Despite his greatness, he plays no role in the movie’s finale, which turned it in a boring, campy, underwhelming, badly written snooze fest – just like the rest of the movie. The last thing I want to comment is the movie’s tagline, which is ‘Trust No One’: I don’t see how that connects to the actual movie whatsoever, and I would like to make a slight change to the tagline to make it more appropriate for the actual movie. It should be ‘Trust No One Who Says This Movie Is Good’.

    Rating: 4/10 Read more at http://passpopcorn.com/

  • I’ve heard that people who read the books by Tom Clancy are dissatisfied by the way this film turned out. Apparently, the Jack Ryan character in the books has a more unique stance than the one shown in this film. That would have actually been better I guess, as Jack is supposed to be an analyst and the film just turns him into another Hollywood spy.

    Even though it seems like any other spy movie, it wasn’t that much of a cliché. There were suspenseful scenes which made it thrilling and the action scenes did not go overboard (as many spy films tend to be).

    The acting was pretty good as well. Chris Pine made it believable that he was inexperienced in the field, but I have doubts that he could have been able to run fully after his accident even after 10 years. The chemistry between Pine and Knightley was pretty believable as well. The other actors and actresses did a good job, enough to fit in to the shoes of their characters but not enough to stand out. Or maybe that means there should have been more character development.

  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 3/10- Chris Pine is an underrated actor. I have no clue why people do not like him because I have not seen a movie with him where he does a bad job. Jack Ryan is no exception. Chris Pine practically saves this movie from the terrible script writing and unfunny jokes. I will admit though that this movie is nothing more than a regular action flick.

    This movie starts out well giving the origin of how everything came to be and showing how a soon to be doctor became an operational analyst for the CIA. They bring in Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley into the film with good sense of awareness and realism. Unfortunately, after these characters were introduced, these actors added nothing to the movie. Kiera Knightley, who plays Cathy Muller, came to the big screen in what seems to be a while since the last Pirates film, but sadly it is obvious that she is a little rusty when it comes to potential blockbuster films. Kevin Costner, who plays the CIA vet William Harper, seems like he was not really even trying to do a decent job and it looks like he thought that he is such a good actor that he just has to show up. Sadly, no actor is that good. Now, again Chris Pine, who obviously plays Jack Ryan, is the only really good part of the movie and Jack Ryan is an example of all the potential he has.

    The screenplay to this movie was terrible. The writers kept with uninteresting sequences too long and did not capitalize on the amazing scenes. I will say that the fighting in Jack Ryan is pretty cool, but they have so many that after you see something a bunch of times, it gets boring because it never gets any better.

    For full review and more, http://reviewsbywest.com/thor-the-dark-world–jack-ryan-shadow-recruit.html

  • Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is a covert CIA analyst, who uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. This is the third, maybe fourth reboot to the Tom Clancy character and the question is will this be as successful as its predecessors?

    On a separate note with all the success Marvel is getting with Avengers, DC heading towards a Justice League and X-Men using past and present characters. While this is a book and not a comic, would it not make sense to join the band wagon? With Splinter Cell set to be released, Jack Ryan out and many other characters at its disposal, why not make something that will lead into a Rainbow Six sort of film? Just a penny for your thoughts.

    I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the brightest person in the world and when it comes to politics and Wall Street and so on, it all pretty much goes over my head. The film is an intelligent film and when they rattle off a lot of information in a short space of time I found it hard to follow. Not to say I wouldn’t reflect afterward and understand, but in the moment it’s hard to take all the…
    To read the full review click here.

  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the fifth film in a series that features actors Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin, and now Chris Pine. After viewing this January release which is one you might forget about the moment you leave the theater, I was slightly reminded of a James Bond movie. Here’s the thing: I was reminded of a lousy James Bond movie. So for the record, let’s just call this Bland, Jack Bland.

    Even though “Shadow” is the fifth and latest installment, it reverts to being an original story separate from the Tom Clancy novels (of which the earlier films were based on). It has been unleashed into theaters just months after the similar themed Paranoia. That film (coincidentally starring Jack Ryan alum Ford) was a huge disappointment. This Kenneth Branagh directed lark, is only slightly better. With a short running time that renders it vastly underwhelming, and containing not one plot twist despite putting that notion out in the trailers, the proceedings begin with an introduction to the events of none other than 9/11. Jack Ryan (Pine) is living in London as a college student and sees the horrific images mentioned on TV. He then decides that he wants to save the world (why not) so he enlists in the U.S. Marine Corps to serve in Afghanistan. After getting severely injured in combat, he winds up in a hospital, meets his future wife (Keira Knightly as Cathy Ryan), and is watched by an admirer in CIA agent Thomas Harper. Harper played by Kevin Costner, persuades Ryan to finish his PhD and eventually work for him on Wall Street (Pine’s character uses his smarts to suspect terrorist activity). Things get hairy when Jack gets involved with a creepy Moscow investor named Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh casting himself as the villain and harboring an incredibly silly Russian accent). From then on, the plot and the sporadic chase sequences/fistfights are set in motion.

    Also set in motion, are the actions of one character in particular who doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, but seems to be more charismatic than anyone else. He is unknown actor Alec Utgoff and plays Cherevin’s son. He is a sleeper cell agent who hides out in Michigan until he is activated to carry out a devious plot. He plans on bombing the entire area of Manhattan’s financial district while his father simultaneously initiates financial trades that will bring down the U.S. economy. As Aleksandr Borovsky, Utgoff says almost nothing. However, he’s quietly menacing and exudes a heck of an amount of screen presence.

    Now Branagh did direct the successfully suspenseful Thor so maybe he decided that it was time to helm movies of this genre for many years to come. To his credit, he does stage action scenes in a decent manner that someone who never saw a Jack Ryan movie, would be okay with. But it seems like there aren’t too many camera setups or believable stunts here. As a result, nothing comes off as groundbreaking or challenging. When I think of action directors, Paul Greengrass, John Woo, and Walter Hill come to mind. When I think of Woody Allen collaborators and Hamlet, I go to Branagh. That however, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s wrong with “Shadow”. Chris Pine, so debonair and sleek in the Star Trek reboots, suffers here when he’s forced to carry a whole movie without a huge cast surrounding him. He’s neither believable as a rough and rugged butt kicker nor is he credible as a spy. Yeah he’s got movie star looks, but he comes off as wooden and stiff. And it doesn’t help that he trades laughable dialogue with his love interest played by Keira Knightly. Oh and speaking of Knightly, she swaps her British accent for an American one and as a result, looks and acts as if she has a mouth full of cotton. Then there’s supporting player Costner, who piggybacks on his role from his earlier work in Man of Steel (he’s starting to project the whole quiet, calming, engaging vibe). He does an okay job with his limited minutes on screen. But you wonder why he is always watching Pine do all the work while he just sits there in the background. Besides firing a gun a few times in one scene, Costner doesn’t have a lot to do. And don’t forget, he doesn’t have a PhD like Pine’s Ryan so his role is disposable and somewhat unnecessary if you will.

    All in all, “Shadow” is by no means an awful film. But like I mentioned earlier, it’s the type of familiar PG-13 hokum that leaves your brain the moment after you view it. Right from the get go, things open up with an annoyance of obligatory spy themed music (lots of violin work with a sped up tempo) and an abundance of computer gimmickry forcing me to call this thing the quote unquote, “laptop movie”. There’s a lot of computer mumbo jumbo going on not to mention a slick, shiny feel when it comes to the cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos (it’s souped-up glitter without a pulse). And even though certain types of moviegoers might get a kick out of all the high tech stuff, what’s on screen ultimately, is bland, lifeless, and to a huge degree, sterile.

    Certain movies stay with you long after you see them. You pick up certain subtleties and see something new or fresh every time. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit sadly, does not possess this trait. Lacking any sort of intrigue (at 1 hr. 45 minutes, how can it), it’s not a distance runner, but rather a dogged, 40 yard dash. Therefore, I don’t plan on “recruiting” anyone to see it.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

    Check out other reviews on my blog: http://www.viewsonfilm.com

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