With the latest Jack Ryan movie, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, staring Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightly, and Kenneth Branagh, who also directed, comes a fast-paced action movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat. This isn’t the Jack Ryan we’ve seen before. With the Cold War long gone and new terror always on the rise, this is a Jack Ryan for a post 9-11 world. With many traits that are recognizable for fans of the novels and previous movies, there is no mistake that this is a new Jack Ryan who comes in kicking major ass!
Many versions of Tom Clancy’s character have come before us, from Alec Baldwin, to Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. After trying to continue and reboot this series with some success in the past, there really hasn’t been a great Jack Ryan movie since the first one, 1990’s The Hunt for Red October, which still stands up as the best of the franchise. There were others: Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears. All good movies, but they never pushed the envelope, nor did they ever stood up to the first movie. Rest assured, we now have a Jack Ryan movie that is as good as the first. This is how you reboot a well-established character to make him relevant once again, with keeping what we know of that character, and re-working his origin to fit into the modern day.
Chris Pine is Jack Ryan. He is young, very Patriotic, highly intelligent, and driven. He is a CIA analyst who has a unique sense of purpose that completely separates him from being just an American James Bond or a copy of Jason Bourne. He uses his brain first, then his brawn if need be. Instead of digging back into the Clancy archives to find a certain story, the filmmakers worked very hard to set this new story in a modern world where his actions take place on a global scale. Much respect to this accomplishment, because it works. Plenty of research went into making this a product all could be proud of.
Kenneth Branagh, who has become a seasoned director and actor who can be trusted to deliver a great product every time, does double duty as director and main adversary for our hero. As a director, he crafts a really good looking and action packed movie. He knows where to keep the suspense and where to trick you as the viewer. And as the villain of the film, he comes in swinging as an unstoppable force of rage. He plays an enigmatic Russian businessman at the center of a plot to cripple the global economy, thus allowing Russians to swoop in and cash in on the global crash putting them on top and the rest of the world at their mercy, leaving only Jack Ryan to stop him of course.
Along with the great job that Chris Pine does is his CIA handler Kevin Costner, who gives a really good performance. He must have enjoyed the character, become most of the time it feels like Costner sleeps his way though his movies, but here he is active and is a character you enjoy. As with Keira Knightly, Jack’s fiancée’ who mistakenly gets involved with CIA’s trying to stop Branagh’s character, Viktor Cherevin. Knightly gives a grand performance as strong female character that doesn’t always need a man to save her. She is resourceful, smart, and can handle herself just fine. And props to her American accent, it’s one of the better ones we’ve heard.
As Jack learns about the plot to take down the economic structure of the world, his own world gets turned upside down when he goes from being just an analyst to a analyst who must fight if need be. They set him up from the beginning as an ex-marine who has training, but is not necessarily a James Bond who can do everything. As the action picks up, it gets crazy! Some decent close combat fight scenes and two really good car chase scenes through Russia and downtown New York. Both are thrilling and short in such a great way you never know what’s going to happen. The filmmakers really manage to keep the mystery with the twist and turns this plot takes.
This is a fun, action filled, suspenseful ride. If you like the Jack Ryan books or other movies, I can’t imagine you being disappointed. This takes a beloved character and makes him relevant once again while keeping the integrity we have come to enjoy. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a great flick and wonderful starting off movie for more to come in this new series of films.