Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit
Starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh

Directed by Kenneth Branagh
In UK Cinemas January 24th, 2014

by Ella Jean

Kenneth Branagh may be a Brit, but you certainly wouldn’t know it from his latest role acting and directing Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Branagh stars as ultimate creepy Russian financier Viktor Cherevin, the villian of the all-American action thriller starring Chris Pine (Star Trek). Well, almost all-American. In the role of Ryan’s squeeze is the don’t-squeeze-too-hard-she’s-fragile Keira Knightley. Knightley’s accent is so convincing it makes it hard to believe it’s her when she first appears on screen as doctor Cathy. Be ready for a heavy dose of stars and stripes, because this movie has all the clichés: army service, wall street, guns and evil Russians (the communists!).

The film is 105 minutes of sweet, formulaic action. Kevin Costner makes a good ol’ Papa Bear as Ryan’s CIA boss. There is no one better than gristly Costner to drop the necessary cheesy action-movie lines like, “that’s bull-s#!%”. My personal favourites, of which I counted three, were his responses to, “Sir, we don’t _____ (see/find/hear) anything.” with “Well _____ harder!”.

The character Jack Ryan comes from the late Tom Clancy’s book series. Ryan has previously been played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and Ben Affleck in The Sum of All Fears. No daunting task for Pine, whose recent role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek had him not only filling William Shatner’s shoes, but living up to the expectations of Trekkies. One can only hope Clancy fans aren’t so hard-core. Pine executes the role well, albeit necessarily wide-eyed as Ryan has greatness thrust upon him when the CIA cherry pick him to save America.

Clancy also wrote Knightley’s character, Cathy. In this film she is Ryan’s doctor turned fiancée, but she’s in the dark about Ryan’s secret second life. What could’ve been a nice opportunity for Shadow Recruit to break out of the action movie mould is ignored; Knightley’s character is the average damsel in distress, despite her having a Ph.D.

Even with all that, and a few of the 360º circling action shots making me dizzy, there is something I like about this film. There’s a certain sexiness to Shadow Recruit, which there better be if they’re following up Harrison Ford in any regard. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit screams, “This is 2014, our special effects are better, but the formula for an action movie will always remain the same!”.

Maybe I don’t watch enough American action movies, or maybe I just have the hots for Jack Ryan, all I’m saying is this: As soon as I got home I switched on Patriot Games on Netflix and furiously munched popcorn. Once you go Jack, you never go back.

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