REVIEW: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

20 01 2014

Economics majors may be get some major wish fulfillment through “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” the latest reboot and recasting of Tom Clancy’s paperback protagonist. As the CIA’s best “analyst” on Wall Street, he’s a compliance officer with a badge! Ryan gets to audit some assets in Russia and uncovers a terrorist plot that’s being developed in tandem with an orchestrated economic meltdown.

While this may sound exciting, it’s far more appealing as a synopsis than as the actual movie that plays out. Kenneth Branagh’s take on Jack Ryan feels like a feature-length first act of a great film. Nothing ever seems to escalate to levels where we feel the need to engage and maybe worry. The action is drawn out rather than reigned in, and as a result, it feels like seeing an incomplete movie. The problem is reminiscent to those that plagued Branagh’s last outing, the first film of the “Thor” series.

Even scarier than Branagh’s directing of “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is his acting in it. Playing the villainous Russian banker Cheverin with a heinously slapdash accent, he’s hardly menacing or intimidating. I found myself pining for a Philip Seymour Hoffman, a revelation in “Mission: Impossible III,” to put Branagh out of his misery.

Perhaps more troubling, though, than not having an antagonist to root against is the lack of a protagonist to root for. Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan feels copied and posted from his work as Captain Kirk in the “Star Trek” franchise. That’s not to say that one star cannot be at the helm of two series. But to be pulled off successfully, the two characters need to be distinct. For example, no one would mistake Robert Downey Jr’s smug Tony Stark from “Iron Man” for his cunning detective in “Sherlock Holmes.”

Pine’s bland acting brings nothing new to the Jack Ryan universe. His acting feels like it could be just any old script; he’s not creating a character that will really endure. As such, the only successful case that “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” makes is that its titular character should just be left behind in the ‘90s.  C+2stars



5 responses

20 01 2014

I guess it’s safe to say you’re not a huge fan. 🙂

I haven’t run out to see this. Not in any real hurry to change that.

20 01 2014

I have to say that I see what it is that you’re saying, but none of what Branagh messed-up with here fully upset me. It seems like its sole-intention was to be the first outing of a supposed-franchise, and for that, I have to say it does a relatively nice job laying down the ground-work for what could be something a bit more fun, tense and likable. As it stands now though, it’s just an alright action-thriller, placed in one of the worst movie months of the year, so I have to at least give it some credit for that. Good review man.

20 01 2014

At least movies clearly meant to establish a franchise such as “Batman Begins” or “Iron Man” felt like complete experiences in and of themselves, not merely a set-up. That’s why I took issue with it: because I know those two birds can be killed with one stone.

20 01 2014

That’s a good point. Maybe I’m just in a good mood about a movie being released during this month is actually somewhat “okay”.

20 01 2014

I usually just pretend these months of movie releases don’t exist and just rewatch the previous year’s Oscar films.

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