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MOVIE REVIEW: FTN reviews Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

January 26th, 2014 by Marc 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

Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….