Review: JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 14 January 2014


Despite all the talents involved, JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is pretty much a moderate thriller that doesn't rise above its genre cliches.

In 2002, there was already a franchise reboot for Jack Ryan adventure in the form of THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, at which Ben Affleck plays the young version of the famous character originally created by the late author Tom Clancy. More than a decade later, the franchise is rebooted for the second time in this long-awaited JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT.

The movie begins with a brief prologue following the news of 9/11 attack in 2001 when Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is still an economics student in London. Two years later, Ryan is on the active duty as Marine lieutenant in Afghanistan who ends up getting attacked during a helicopter ambush. He is lucky enough to survive the attack, and while nursing for recovery in the hospital, he meets his doctor Cathy (Keira Knightley) and a high-ranking commanding officer, Harper (Kevin Costner). Cut to the present day, Harper offers Ryan a job as a junior CIA analyst to work on a covert operation based in the Wall Street firm. When he uncovers an elaborate scheme involving a mysterious Russian businessman, Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), he has a reason to believe that Cherevin is trying to cripple the US economy.

It's nice to see a thriller like JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT where brain favors over brawn. For instance, the Moscow sequence which sees Ryan tries to bluff his way out of the dining restaurant to sneak into Cherevin's office building so he can hack into his data while leaving Cathy and Cherevin flirting at each other, is particularly thrilling.

As the young and smart but reckless Jack Ryan, Chris Pine fits the profile adequate enough for his role.
The climactic finale where Ryan engages in an exhilarating police van chase across the busy street of Manhattan.
It's quite a pity that the rest of the supporting actors doesn't register as much subtlety as I would expect from them. As the movie's main villain, Kenneth Branagh is forgettable as Viktor Cherevin. Same goes to Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley as well, at which both of their characters feel stereotypical. Then there's the plot, written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp, which is nothing more than your standard-looking thriller filled with weary cliches. Director Kenneth Branagh, who proves that he can handles blockbuster element in 2011's THOR, is surprisingly pedestrian (save it for the above-mentioned Moscow sequence and the final race-against-the-time third act) in his direction here. Even most of the action sequences are choppily edited with lots of shaky camerawork. Speaking of choppy editing, nothing comes worst than the head-inducing, nighttime car chase scene in Moscow.

Overall, JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT doesn't exactly set this long-gestating franchise on fire like it used to be. In fact, I would say the first reboot in THE SUM OF ALL FEARS fares better than this one.

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