Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Posted: January 20, 2014 in movie reviews, movie reviews 2014, movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Upon first glance, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is your typical action spy thriller movie, but this one manages to take those action movie clichés, make them, then break them leaving you with fresh twists that will surprise you.


Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Directed By: Kenneth Branaugh
Starring: Chris Pine, Kiera Knightly, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branaugh, Colm Feore, David Paymer, Peter Andersson

Premise: After recovering from an accident in Afghanistan after 9/11, Jack Ryan is recruited as a financial advisor in the Financial Intelligence Unit of the CIA. While working an agency mole on Wall Street he uncovers a Russian terrorist plot to bring down the U.S. economy.


What I Liked About Shadow Recruit:

  • It set up situations that could have easily veered into cliché territory: the girlfriend that makes stupid decisions, the damsel in distress, the mono y mono big bad battle, CIA mentor can we or can we not trust him? – Then it shattered those clichés executing the aftermath in creative ways that didn’t drag.
  • The ending, like ultimate ending, was unexpected. Not in a “WHOA, I didn’t see that coming” way, but in a “Wow, that’s pretty cool” way. I like movies that have little surprises in them and this one had a few.
  • Chris Pine. He knows his capabilities in this movie. He doesn’t try to be a hardcore fighter bad ass. He uses his smarts, his charm, his uncanny abilities to play an arrogant frat boy. And it works. He’s like a real guy with skill, who reacts to situations in way that seems plausible. These traits make the whole CIA operative super smart spy thing feel fresh.
  • The movie was smart. It didn’t feel like the movie was dumbed down for the audience. It was layered and well-crafted and clever. But it was also smart in the way that it used the actors, which in part, is thanks to Kenneth Branaugh who has always been known as an actor’s director. The movie knew Chris Pine’s strengths, Keira Knightly was actually NOT annoying in this movie (I think her sporting an American accent was a good thing), and it actually used Kevin Costner instead of other movies that parade out it’s “big name” every act to say something witty or inspiring before sending them into off camera oblivion.



What I Didn’t Like

  • The Big Bad wasn’t Bad Enough. (**minor spoiler alert here**) But the Big Bad could have been badder. And essentially the Big Bad wasn’t the Big Bad. He was just the Bad, not the Big. Does that make sense? I think it does, so moving on. Kenneth Branaugh is great at delivering tension. He has this intimidating way about him, but you get a sense through the movie that it’s all talk and no execution. And maybe that’s the point, but honestly, it’s also lame.
  • We spent a lot of time getting to know Jack Ryan, but almost no time getting to know anyone else. Essentially the cast is pretty small, you have 4 “main” characters, and other smaller supporting characters, but the only one who really gets a backstory is Jack Ryan. Yes, he’s the hero, but you need to develop your other characters. It’s a reboot so essentially you’re starting over. It’s been a long time since, (The Hunt for the Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and Sum of All Fears). Movies based on books need to equally play to the people who know the author’s work and characters, and to a new audience. (Also how do you have Colm Feore in a movie than severely underuse him? I mean seriously!)


Overall Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit an exciting and clever action movie, but with the sense that we’ve seen it all before. If you’re a fan of Chris Pine it’s definitely a movie to watch because we all need a little more of those piercing blue eyes in our life. The movie will keep you entertained and it has some substance to it, just don’t expect to be floored.


Rating: B





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