Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
80 % by 2 users

Jack Ryan, as a young covert CIA analyst, uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

January 17, 2014

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Strong components that don't quite come together

Reviewed by 24eaf51cf6f7cf9654c040d5b2b25dee?size=16 James Wirth

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

The Plot
Just out of college, Jack Ryan joins the Marines to serve his country after the 9/11 terrorist attacks; however a debilitating crash forces him out of active duty. During physical rehab he is recruited to join the CIA as a financial analyst. While attempting to uncover terrorist funding sources, he comes under attack and must single-handedly fight his way out to save his fiancé, the targeted victims of a planned terrorist attack, and the US economy. Just another day at the office.

The Story
It's relatable enough: our main character initially shows promise but is dealt a bad hand in life and finds himself confronted with seemingly insurmountable odds. His or her motivations, challenges, pro- and an- tagonist interactions, rewards and failures become ours as we cheer or lament at each twist. Just like real life.

The Characters
The first movie I recall seeing Chris Pine in was the Star Trek reboot. I admired his gritty portrayal of a young Jim Kirk whose ego was eclipsed only by the size of the justifiable chip on his shoulder. Yet he was still able to overcome it all and save the world - literally - in a very believable way.

I initially was disappointed that as the next Jack Ryan, despite a motivating if a little predictable plot twist early on, the chip didn't have time to fully seat itself before he was once again off to save the day. But his portrayal grew on me, and by the end, it worked ok.

Keira Knightley put just the right dose of tension into her character. What would otherwise have been a role on the wrong side of yawn kept me guessing the entire time.

Kenneth Branagh, who has captivated me in just about every role he has played, did not disappoint. I found myself *almost* sympathizing with this very bad guy and hoping for a last minute change of heart. AND he directed?!?

Enter Kevin Costner, playing seasoned CIA team lead William Harper who is as Morpheus was to NEO, finding and recruiting Jack to save the day. Costner portrays Harper as almost-too-calm without being emotionless.

The High Points
There were some good action scenes including intense but realistic car chases and well-orchestrated fight sequences. There was also some very strong plot development in certain areas, including in some of the relationships. The movitvation of potential terrorist attacks was also handled well and not over-developed. The story compelling, individual performances very strong, the music very fitting. In all an enjoyable movie.

What Could Have Been Better

  • Certain areas seemed under-developed or neglected and cast an unrealistic shadow. Maybe they were trying to do too much - I wonder what the directors cut might add to the story line.

  • While he was present, I would have liked to see Harris more involved in some of the action. Not sure where this decision was made - in the original story arch, the screenplay adaptation or direction - but it left me wanting.

  • Accepting Ryan as a highly intelligent PhD financial analyst with mad martial arts-esque skills he presumably earned as a Marine who is the only one who can save the US from complete financial ruin, was all a bit hard to swallow. Yes he was a Marine, but that involves high-flying martial arts kicking training? This seemed a bit thin.

The Final Word
While I've been a bit critical, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, the acting, story line, Chris Pine as Jack Ryan, and the supporting characters. There was good chemistry between Pine and Knightley and veterans Branagh and Costner added needed depth to the cast. Ill definitely see this one again and if you haven't already, I recommend it.

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Trailers don't do this movie justice

Reviewed by kat

I found Jack Ryan one of the best action movies I've seen in awhile. From the trailers I would not have expected the action and suspense it commands. The movie does not follow the Clancy novels nor did I expect it. But both Chris Pine and Kevin Costner did a excellent job with their roles. Branagh plays a great villain. Keira Knightley was a convincing young Anne Archer. Again, I found this the best action movie I have seen in some time.

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