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A new version of the saga of CIA analyst, Jack Ryan. It begins when Ryan was attending the London School of Economics; and 9/11 happened. He would then enlist in the Marines and would go to Afghanistan. The chopper he was on would get shot down and he would suffer severe injuries that would require intense rehab. While there, he grabs the attention of a man named Harper, who works for the CIA and would like him to finish his studies and get a job on Wall Street so he can find out of any terrorist plot through their finances. A few years later, Ryan finds anomalies in the accounts of a Russian named Cherevin. Jack thinks he should go to Russia to find out what's going on. Jack was told not to tell anyone who he is and that includes his girl friend Cathy. But she catches Jack in some lies which makes her doubt him. Jack goes to Russia and Cherevin assigns him someone to take care of him. But when they're alone the man tries to kill Jack. So Jack kills him. Obvious Cherevin is hiding ... Written by
Brainless, fun rebirth of Tom Clancy's all-American CIA hero.
Jack Ryan: nine novels (15 if you include the Jack Ryan Jr series), five films, four lead actors (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck & now Chris Pine) and two reboots. Tom Clancy's best-known character has endured and enjoyed a varied existence to say the least.
Intended as the second reimagining, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is more a rebirth of the Marine turned CIA agent turned world-saving, death-defying, awe-inspiring, all American hero. Forget the books, ignore the timeline, disengage the brain, abandon reason, slice the pizza, sip the beer and settle down for a mindless romp. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is predictable fun with barely a toe in the world of reality but it is fun just as long as you forget to think.
Jack Ryan (Pine) is a student at the London School of Economics when terrorists fly two aeroplanes into the World Trade Centre towers. 9/11 prompts Ryan to make a career about-turn and join the Marines. Fast forward a few years and Ryan is undergoing intense rehab in a military hospital having barely survived after a chopper he was aboard was shot down in Afghanistan. Ryan is firstly observed and then recruited by the shadowy Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) as a desk-bound CIA analyst, but a trip to Russia to investigate the nefarious financial dealings of Viktor Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh) elevates Ryan very swiftly to role of field agent, and an action man is (re)born.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is neither as loud nor as brainless as last year's White-House-under-attack double act of White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen but it is about as much fun and has at least as many plot holes. The entire finale comes about as a result of a catalogue of unrealistically simple contrivances and there is no reason to have Ryan's girlfriend, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightly), anywhere near Moscow other than to sex up the film and redress the situation of the underused Anne Archer from the Harrison Ford years.
There are no prizes for acting here. Pine may have found franchise work for the next few years but Costner, Knightly and Branagh are here for the light relief and the easy pay cheques. Let's just hope that for each of them this is merely a short break from the superior work of which they are all capable.
Branagh, on double duties as actor/director, will have done himself a lot of favours here with the money men at the studios and it further cements his position as a gun for hire in Hollywood, but all these popcorn flicks he's turning out for the studios take him further away from shooting another series of Wallander for the BBC. And I for one am not happy about that.
It must be possible to make a thriller that is exciting, suspenseful, vaguely realistic and intelligent, but Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit isn't it. 'Fun' is fine but it isn't memorable or satisfying. Less a case of 'could do better', more a case of 'has been better.'
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