Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Directed by: Kenneth Branagh Cast: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: January 17, 2014
PLOT: Jack Ryan (Pine) is a covert CIA analyst. He discovers a Russian plot to destroy the U.S. with a terrorist attack and an economic collapse.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you're a sucker for standard thrills and chases, you probably won't find anything better in January.
For a prequel, reboot, or whatever we want to call Jack Ryan: Shadow Recuit, there is some really good stage setting. We begin with getting to know the motivations of Ryan. Then, we feel his pain when he’s in rehab from a war injury. He’s a good guy, the kind who is easy to root for, and Pine brings that to light quite well. Once we finally get to present day, and Ryan has found himself as an analyst, we really get hooked with him in over his head when he finds himself in a situation gone wrong in Moscow. Unfortunately, shortly after that it seems to be all down him from there.
While Branagh did a good job directing Thor, I can’t say the same thing here. He does a fine job casting himself as the villain who is trying to stay alive long enough to put Russia back on the map (the villainous plot is to restore Russia's status as the main superpower, while crushing America in the process). The second half of the movie is sloppy, and the tension is weak. There are two key moments that are supposed to be tense, and it’s really just Jack hitting keys on a computer, or others doing it while he thinks so rapidly we just hear, “Blah, blah, blah.” Actually, the entire plot seems to be “Blah.” Jack needs to get into one computer system to track money, which will show him exactly where a terror attack will happen on U.S. soil. There are a few too many times when getting from point A to Z seems like nonsense, or impossibly convenient, compared to how difficult it should be.
Plus, the action sequences completely suffer from SCS (Shaky Camera Syndrome). There are two chase sequences that don’t matter at all. Only the film’s first fight, which takes place in a hotel room in Moscow, feels inspired. The supporting cast doesn’t help much either. Branagh is fine, but Knightley misses the mark. She’s the damsel in distress, with only one inspired moment acting opposite Branagh.
I really did like the first half of this film. So much so, that I am completely fine with Pine giving us more Jack Ryan in the future. Hopefully it won’t have Branagh, and hopefully they can find a new script or go back to one of the Tom Clancy novels for an interesting story.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10