Based on characters created by Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is an US Marine veteran who is recruited by CIA agent William Harper (Kevin Costner) to be a financial analyst after he was seriously injured when his chopper was shot down. When Ryan discovers a Russian scheme to collapse the US economy, he travels to Moscow where he goes from an analyst to an active field agent. Ryan must quickly unravel the plot before Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) can bring his plan to fruition, while at the same time keep his relationship with his girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightly).
I do not have much experience with anything Tom Clancy related, whether it’s his books, previous Jack Ryan movies, or the video games. So when I went into the theater to see Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, I had no expectations about the characters. I went to see it simply because it is a spy thriller and the trailer looked pretty cool. For me, this movie’s trailer maybe made me expect a little to much from the film and in the end, I felt let down.
The cast was fairly strong. Chris Pine has been the lead before in movies like Star Trek and does a decent job carrying the movie , but I think he does better when he has a larger supporting cast behind him. Kevin Costner does great as Ryan’s handler and it was nice to see Keira Knightly in something other than a period piece. But the strongest performance was from Kenneth Branagh. He brings a chilling class to his character.
Unlike most action/spy movies, this film does a good job not becoming too over-the-top. You won’t experience anything you haven’t seen in almost any other spy thriller, and frankly I wasn’t too engrossed in the ‘break America by breaking their economy’ plot, but it is a melting pot of the elements that make other spy films enjoyable. The only thing I was a little ‘eh’ on was when Ryan figured out the location of a sleeper agent. The way he jumps around and finally reaches the conclusion felt out of place with the rest of the movie.
Shaky cam really gets on my nerves. I don’t like it at all. Any time the action picks up in Jack Ryan, the camera immediately starts shaking violently and you can’t see anything, especially when several scenes take place at night. I miss the days when the cameras in action movies stayed in place and you could see the characters duking it out.
This is a bit spoilerish but it was something that bothered me about the trailer after watching the movie. The trailer makes Jack Ryan look like there is someone in the CIA out to get Ryan, which is a bit misleading. There is no element of “who can you trust?” at all. Everyone is on the same side and no double crossing. Normally I wouldn’t care, but it was such a dominate part of the trailer that I felt it needed mentioning.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit doesn’t bring anything new to the spy-genre table, but it does maintain the components that make them fun and enjoyable. Pine does well carrying the movie, but he seems to do better when he has a larger supporting cast to work with. It never becomes too over the top, mostly staying within the realm of reality. Jack Ryan isn’t a terrible movie, but it doesn’t do anything to stand out either.