Review – Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Poster for 2014 action thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Genre: Thriller
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 24th January 2014
Runtime: 105 minutes
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Adam Cozad, David Koepp
Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh
Synopsis: When a war veteran takes an analyst job with the CIA, he soon finds himself and his girlfriend embroiled in the dangerous and deadly masterplan of a Russian criminal.

 

 

The character of analyst turned superspy Jack Ryan, made famous in print by the late Tom Clancy, has been played by such acting heavyweights as Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford. Next up is Chris Pine, in this slick spy thriller that feels fiercely modern whilst acknowledging the appeal of the past.

After Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is injured in Afghanistan, he attracts the eye of CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) and pretty doctor Cathy (Keira Knightley). He is employed as a covert financial analyst and uncovers some irregularities in the work of Viktor Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh). Soon, he heads to Russia in an effort to find out what he is up to.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, despite its stupid video game title, is a solid, often riotously entertaining spy actioner. With its financial espionage central conceit, it feels very modern and the action is clearly inspired by the work of Paul Greengrass on the Bourne franchise, but it also harks back to the early days of Bond.

| "This is geopolitics, not couples therapy."

Chris Pine is charismatic in the lead role, supported by an able performance from Keira Knightley, who has left her slightly ropey Pirates of the Caribbean displays behind her. Kevin Costner does wizened old spy very well and director Kenneth Branagh turns everything up to eleven as the brilliantly sinister Russian villain.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is not a film blessed  with perfect pacing. It takes almost the entire first act for the narrative to kick into gear, but from then onwards, it’s an absolute onslaught of thrilling action that never lifts its foot from the gas pedal.

The criminal masterplan is all very derivative of classic spy cinema and there are very few real narrative surprises, but Branagh’s direction helps the story unravel in the most thrilling way possible. There is real brio and verve in the chase sequences as the story zips through to its conclusion.

| "You Americans like to think of yourselves as direct. Perhaps you are just rude."

This is a promising start to a new Jack Ryan franchise with Chris Pine at the head of it. When the inevitable sequel arrives, it has a strong foundation in place and just needs to keep the excitement levels going.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

Launching a new franchise with promising flair, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a really fun action movie that does a great job of establishing its characters.

Aided by solid performances and a director with real skill behind the camera, the film is the perfect combination of Bourne and Bond.

It struggles a little in the opening stages, but once it hits its stride, it really works as a mainstream action blockbuster.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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