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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

January 26th, 2014 by Paddy Comments

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (12)
Starring: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley and Kenneth Branagh.
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Running time: 103mins

JACK Ryan is the Hollywood action hero who refuses to go away. After Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck it’s Chris Pine’s turn to play the screen incarnation of Tom Clancy’s much loved character.

There’s a definite feel of The Bourne Identity to the latest reboot of Ryan as we are shown how the title character is recruited into the CIA by Kevin Costner’s Harper and thrown into the deep end when evidence comes up that Kenneth Branagh’s Russian billionaire is planning something dastardly.

If that wasn’t enough he has to keep his real life job a secret from his girlfriend Cathy (Knightley).

The North’s own Branagh doubles up on directorial duties here and he deserves credit for an adrenaline fuelled spy caper that doesn’t substitute brains for brawn. No mean feat in today’s cinematic world where the ethos seems to be that less is less.

The plot has Ryan as a fledgling CIA analyst who uncovers a scheme to throw the American economy into turmoil and turn Russia into the world’s leading financial body. To do so Branagh’s character wants to ensure that America enters another Great Depression by destroying the value of the dollar while simultaneously launching a terrorist attack on US soil.

It’s up to Ryan to get to the bottom of things before it’s too late.

There’s a refreshing old school vibe to proceedings as Ryan is taught some old school spy smarts by Harper that wouldn’t be out of place in a John Le Carre novel.

That’s not to say they skimp on the action here but by putting characterisation first there’s more at stake when proceedings hit the proverbial fan.

The cast are all on great form. Pine is excellent in the lead role, a cross between Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon and Jason Bourne. He is more than plausible as the desk bound boyscout who is in way over his head.

Branagh is as reliable as ever, giving us a villain that’s as menacing as he is intelligent without ever having to resort to histrionics.

It’s Costner who’s the standout though. He brings both gravitas and levity to the role of Harper and in an ideal world he’d get his own spin-off movie.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit won’t top any end of year lists but it’s an intelligent actioner that shows you don’t always have to leave your brain at the door.


Paddy Ryan: Shadow Nerd

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Paddy Ryan, like Buck Rogers, is a man out of time. He's a loose cannon haunted by his past who, when he's not making painful attempts at humour, is busy watching as many geeky films and TV shows as possible. An avid reader, he has vowed one day to start that novel he's been talking about for years. Born in the late 70s, he's an 80s kid at heart who sees nothing wrong with spending hours upon hours watching season three of Robin Of Sherwood. Jason Connery wasn't that bad you know! He's got a million ideas for comic books but thankfully doesn't know anyone with the time to draw them and call his bluff on that one! The Empire Strikes Back is his favourite film, Doctor Who is his TV show of choice and when it comes to books ... well that's a whole other story! I'm Paddy Ryan and you're not...