Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Starring: Chris Pine, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Year: 2013

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
The first film in a reboot of the Jack Ryan character, originally created by Tom Clancy. Jack Ryan has featured in some pretty incredible films: The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, The Sum of All Fears.
Shadow Recruit is not directly adapted from a Tom Clancy novel, instead it is an original prequel story to Jack Ryan, starting at College, briefly going through his stint as a marine, and then to his work as an analyst for the CIA. Ten years after his stint as a Marine, ten years after and he is still able to fight and kick-ass like he’s been doing it forever. Does that make much sense?
After he uncovers an economic terrorist plot, Ryan flys to Russia, meeting the man behind it – Viktor Cherevin, played by the film’s director Kenneth Branagh.

Jack Ryan is bland. Though the plot is intelligent and well thought out it doesn’t attain a climactic high, merely plateauing for majority of the film. It is superficial, clichéd and forgettable. Kenneth Branagh does a fairly good Russian accent and his intense unnerving persona is the highlight of characters.

Keira Knightley plays the girlfriend, Cathy. Though she is a seemingly strong, American doctor and is able to adequately distract a Russian corrupt banker, she doesn’t amount to much else. It’s an odd choice for Keira, who has proven herself to be an actress of worthier parts, frequent is smaller independent flicks and period pieces. It’s questionable as to how she even landed the role, having worked on smaller films for so long and spoken out about her distaste for the fame that accompanies bigger films.

Chris Pine is adequate, it’s a standard role for him in recent years. CIA Operatives, Captains, it seems to be his standard role, at least in has the recent years. But he proves to be a better Captain Kirk than a CIA operative or analyst. It would be nice to see him in a more dramatic, less action-based role which he could really sink his teeth into.
Kenneth Branagh directs the film, though he isn’t given much to work with. His use of the handheld camera is disorienting and jumbled rather than adding to the tension of the moment. As mentioned earlier the film is a reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise, with producers and writers opting to create their own story than adapt directly from Tom Clancy. Perhaps here lies their mistake. It’s a big cast going up against a mediocre script and story, Adam Cozad and David Koepp wrote the screenplay, with the original concept by Hossein Amini.

The movie is serviceable, but not compelling and likely not worthy of the franchise that may follow.

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