“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” | Movie Review

Overall Grade: (C+)

Solid cast performances make the most out of a script that had all the pieces you want in an espionage thriller, with the only thing missing being a high amount of intrigue.


Jack Ryan (Pine) is a young marine with a great mind. When he joins the CIA he gets the detail of working as a covert analyst. His task will be monitoring money movement all over the world looking for possible signs of terrorist funding or anything that could be deemed a threat to the United States. When he uncovers a Russian lead plot to attack the U.S. economical system in the form of a terrorist strike, Ryan will travel to Moscow to try and shut it down in time.

My Thoughts

Growing up I always loved a classic Tom Clancy novel. They were always enthralling, highly detailed, and global in scope. I have also enjoyed the subtle creation of the Jack Ryan character and his implementation of varying degrees in many great Clancy novels. Over the years the Jack Ryan character has clearly been the cinema favorite for all Clancy-based film works. Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and Harrison Ford have all played the iconic character and the role has now been turned over to Chris Pine.

To Pine’s credit, his performance was very good and he did pull of the role with strong believably – giving the character more physical prowess than in past films, while still capturing the prevalent strength, Ryan’s superior intelligence. The script essentially reboots the Ryan saga from the beginning and Pine delivers the emotions needed to convey a young agent in the field for his first time. He also feels the part, capturing the mental strength of the Ryan character that has been the focus of the many other films in the series.

The rest of the cast is great as well in their roles, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh and Keira Knightley all provide this film with solid performances. Branagh is convincing as the villain, you can see the calculation in his expressions which builds his high level of determination to achieve the evil goals the plot wraps around.

Costner easily pulls off the role of the veteran CIA agent, although his impact on the film was not equal to his time onscreen. Other then a few strong scenes he was mostly insignificant, feeling like he was placed in the script out of necessity rather than creativity. Knightley and Pine show a good chemistry and while Knightley really had a generic role in the script, she was still enjoyable and you can actually believe the two as a couple in love.

It was not the cast the hindered this film, it was the clean-cut and highly convenient flow and path the script took. The bulk of the film was not boring and throughout you are given everything you could ask for in a fun espionage-thriller – international settings, mysterious spies, covert agents, car chases, lots of technology and clashing countries on the verge of war. Yet despite all this, the impact and intensity in the writing was never delivered. The main problem was this film had a nice flow but really did not go anywhere for some time.

The setting is built and you feel like the framework is set for a great adventure but then you realize the film is about over and the snap-shot climax will be come and gone in minutes. This newest entry in the Jack Ryan series seemed rushed and too neat and tidy. There is never any doubt after seeing the subtle conveniences the story-line places throughout, that Ryan will inevitably succeed, just barely, with his mission and save millions.

Third-acts can make or break a film and for this one it hovered in the middle. The film leading up to the final act felt like a good espionage film with solid characters, good performances and nice camerawork. Once you take into account the final closing of the films premise you feel like you watched a decent, slightly less serious action film with your typical blue-eyed hero riding a motorcycle all over town to save the day – solo.

This was not a bad film but not on the same level of intricacy of the past films. It was enjoyable for the most part but also just as forgettable in the long run. Chris Pine made for a good Jack Ryan but even he couldn’t save a script that seemed to pull more from other movies rather then bringing its own solid creativity to the scripting table.

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