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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) good movie
USA, 106 min, Rated PG (ON) 13+ (QC)
Reviewed 01/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca
www.ofrb.gov.on.ca | www.rcq.gouv.qc.ca

Kenneth Branagh - Director
Adam Cozad and David Koepp - Screenplay
Haris Zambarloukos - Cinematography


"(Jack Ryan) appears to be just another New York executive to his friends and loved ones, but his enlistment into the CIA secretly goes back years. He was brought in as a brainy Ph.D. who crunches global data – but when Ryan ferrets out a meticulously planned scheme to collapse the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it. Now, he’s gone fully operational, thrust into a world of mounting suspicion, deception and deadly force." - shadowrecruitmovie.com


Chris Pine stars as post-9/11 US Marine Lieutenant turned CIA anti-terrorism agent Jack Ryan in Paramount Pictures' second updated reboot of the big screen franchise based on the spy thriller series by late American novelist Tom Clancy. Enlisted out of physio rehab after suffering spinal damage in Afghanistan, Ryan's job as a covert Wall Street brokerage analyst for the agency soon sends him dodging bullets and fighting for his life in Moscow while matching wits against malicious Russian tycoon Viktor Cherevin (played by Kenneth Branagh) whose financial clout and twisted Motherland patriotism threaten to devastate the United States' economy. Branagh also directs this entertaining but slightly self-defeating actioner, which co-stars Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, as Ryan's stoic intelligence boss William Harper and Jack's whip-smart long-time girlfriend Cathy Muller, respectively.

Clancy's famed character, John Patrick 'Jack' Ryan, first appeared in print in the prolific author's acclaimed 1984 best-selling novel The Hunt for Red October. Subsequent books traced Ryan's career through his adventures in espionage to his tumultuous Presidency and the rise of his son, Jack Ryan Jr. In 2013, Clancy's posthumously-published novel, Command Authority, reportedly became the 16th title comprising his Jack Ryan/Jack Ryan Jr. series.

Paramount's page-to-screen franchise began with its adaptation of The Hunt for Red October (1990), starring Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst Jack Ryan opposite Sean Connery's Russian nuclear submarine captain Marko Ramius. That blockbuster garnered three Oscar nominations, winning an Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing. Harrison Ford took over the lead role as Ryan for Patriot Games (1992), and the two-time Oscar-nominated Clear and Present Danger (1994). The fourth and last film adaptation, The Sum of All Fears (2002), starred Ben Affleck. It apparently suffered more from distaste for homeland anti-terrorism flicks less than a year after 9/11 than from its arguably wooden attempts at rebooting the 12-year-old franchise.

Fast-forward almost 12 years later to Paramount Picture's newly released Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the next Jack Ryan movie franchise reboot and the first Jack Ryan movie not based on any of Tom Clancy's books - just the characters. What ever that means. Admittedly, I was skeptical heading in to this screening. Check out my Pressbook Review of this flick's promotional poster, trailer and website to see why. Having now seen the movie, I'm fighting the urge to amend that review with a few more swift kicks at the poster and trailer for using misleading imagery and footage not seen on-screen.

However, without a doubt - and definitely without pulling a Crazy Ivan to make comparisons with its predecessors - Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an over-all satisfying, bare-fisted Clancy-style action thriller for tech savvy fans of the genre, regardless of age. Best of all, Chris Pine is perfect as Jack Ryan. He's completely believable as this hyper-intelligent, US Marine-trained yet untested CIA recruit dispatched to Moscow and out of his depth. When he fights for his life, he fights scared. When Pine's Ryan kills for the first time, he's visibly traumatized to his core but shoulders through it to stay on point. You see his strengths and his weaknesses, as he evolves through the course of writers Adam Cozad and David Koepp's well-enough crafted screenplay. It's a good start, despite its flaws later in the storyline. (Read more)

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