Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the fifth film to feature the popular Tom Clancy character, CIA agent Jack Ryan. Four films and three actors later, it was inevitable that we were going to see a reboot for this character. It was, after all, twelve years ago that we last saw Jack Ryan on our screens in The Sum of All Fears.
My immediate worry was how they were going to breathe new life into the character without seeming to copy films from both the James Bond and Bourne franchises.
I was expecting similar fight scenes to the Bourne films and, with Chris Pine in the Ryan role, a little bit of charm that wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond film.
This wasn’t the case. What we got instead were fight scenes that were over in the blink of an eye and a central character who seems like a rabbit caught in the headlights. But that was the whole point. This isn’t the experienced CIA agent we have seen in previous films; this is a CIA analyst who gets thrown into the world of an operative field agent right at the deep-end.
Chris Pine had a lot to live up to. It is no easy feat to fill the boots of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, but I think Pine did well. He has that likability factor that could get people interested in Jack Ryan again. Pine particularly impressed me more in the scenes where Ryan felt way out of his comfort zone such as just after his first kill.
Kenneth Branagh both directs and stars as villain Viktor Cherevin. As the villain he is nothing spectacular, but that wasn’t needed for this film. There was no need for a flamboyant villain. He was silently menacing and when he wanted to be, he was pretty vicious.
Branagh has proved that he can direct an action film before when he brought Marvel’s Thor to the big screen and he shows no signs that he shouldn’t be behind the camera in this case.
I did have a problem with Keira Knightley, however. I have never really been impressed with her as an actress and her character, Cathy Muller, just gets annoying after a while. When she finds out Ryan is a CIA agent and not having an affair, she just brushes off that lie and jumps at the chance to get involved in all the espionage. I mean come on, really?!
Harrison Ford is still, for me, the best Jack Ryan. Chris Pine has a long way to go to beat Ford but now that we have his origin story out of the way, he could go on and make Ryan his own.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit serves as nothing more but a reintroduction to a familiar character, just like Casino Royale was for James Bond. The trouble is that Shadow Recruit is a pretty underwhelming reintroduction that finds itself, a bit like 2012s Jack Reacher, leagues behind the Bourne and James Bond films.