Since there are seemingly no new stories in Hollywood, we are provided with a reboot of the Jack Ryan franchise, the secret agent best known for the film “trilogy” that included The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger. We also had a previous reboot attempt with Ben Affleck in the lead role, in The Sum of All Fears.
In our latest attempt to get people interested in the Tom Clancy character again, we are given Chris Pine, now best known as the guy in the new Star Trek films, playing Jack Ryan, and the origins of how he started working for the CIA and getting involved in all kinds of secret world issues and terrorist plots.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is really, a whole bunch of average stuffed into one film. Sure, there are some cool action scenes. But they almost seem pointless. Sure, there is a stellar cast here, including Oscar-winners like Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Costner, as well as the role of the love-interest/fiancee played by Keira Knightley (it seems like forever since she has been in a movie! I know this isn’t correct, but it feels that way), who adapts an American accent for one of the rare times in her career, making her almost seem like someone else completely. While these stars are present in the film, they don’t really do much. They are just there.
Our plot is about Jack Ryan, a marine who is recruited by the CIA, where he begins working as a numbers crunched for global data. Here, he uncovers a plot that is meant to crash the US economy, and from there, he is thrown into the field in a series of unfortunate events.
There are plenty of cliches throughout the story, and the viewers will be continually reminded that they are watching a kind of James Bond reboot lite, with some of the substance, but not nearly enough to make us really care about anything.
There isn’t a ton to say about this film. You won’t hate yourself for watching it, it isn’t nearly that bad. It is decent. Everything about it is decent. But in an era now where we demand more from our action movies, such as strong characters, engrossing plot, maybe some humour, even some requirements for intellectual thinking, Shadow Recruit generally does just alright. There is nothing new here, and nothing life changing. If you watch it just for the action, you will be mildly entertained. Even looking at the other reviews for the film, we can see how it is mired in mediocrity. 6.2 from IMDB? Mediocre. 56% from Rotten Tomatoes? Mediocre.
I’ll say that the best part of the film is Knightley, if only because she really seems like the perfect casting for someone who is meant to grow up and be played by Anne Archer in the later Harrison Ford films, like Patriot Games.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit could have been much, much more, and so much better. It continues on the path of strange directorial roles taken on by renowned Shakespearean actor Branagh, but it never really gets out of second gear.