'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit': Mediocre and unimaginative (Movie Review)
Posted on Jan 18 2014 | IANS
By Troy Ribeiro, Film: "Jack Ryan"; Cast: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh; Director: Kenneth Branagh; Rating: **
For the uninitiated, "Jack Ryan" is a famous spy entity created by novelist Tom Clancy who has fascinated and enticed Hollywood over the years. But unlike the suave and fashionable James Bond, Jack has never attained the popularity he deserved simply because he is presumably a timid geek introvert.
"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is the fifth edition of this franchise after "The Hunt for Red October", "Patriot Games", "Clear and Present Danger" and "The Sum of All Fears".
Resurrected fourteen years after he was last seen on screen, director Kenneth Branagh reinvents Jack Ryan as someone more modern, quick-witted and aggressive.
In Branagh's universe, Jack Peter Ryan a student of the London School of Economics is bitten by the patriotic bug after the American tragedy of Sep 11. He returns home to join the armed forces.
Eighteen months later on a mission to Afghanistan, Lieutenant Ryan sustains a spinal injury caused by a mid-air tragedy.
Eight months later, after a successful bout of physiotherapy under the strict supervision of doctor Cathy, Ryan is once again fit to resume normal duties. It so happens that over a period of time he falls in love with his physiotherapist.
After noticing Ryan's sharp analytical skills, it is Commander William Harper who nudges him with, "If you still want to serve your country you can still do it". Soon Ryan is working as a financial analyst in a Wall Street firm and moonlights for the Financial Intelligence Unit of the modern CIA.
During the course of his work, Ryan stumbles upon a Russian plot that could collapse the United States economy. So he travels to Russia to confront capitalist Victor Cherevin.
Meanwhile, believing Ryan is having an affair, Cathy lands up in Moscow to give him a surprise and instead is pitched against Victor who is high on "Vodka, Vanity and Women". That's when the plot gets interesting and exciting.
Chris Pine as Jack Ryan is cute and adorable. He brings an earthiness to the character and he delivers. Unfortunately, it's the script that does not do justice to his character graph. How can a man, who has recently recovered from a spinal injury, combat a hefty man and excel in eye-blinking speed action and fight sequences with ease. Too far-fetched!
Chris is strongly supported with noteworthy performances by his co-stars; Kevin Costner as Commander Harper, Keira Kinghtley as his love interest Cathy and Kenneth Branagh as the thin-lipped, Russian villain. Kenneth is suave and does the fanatical Cherevin with underrated ease. Unfortunately, he is not at all menacing.
As a director, Branagh fails to deliver. The script, co-written by David Koepp and Adam Cozad, seem to be outdated and has plot-holes galore. The film is rife with uneven pacing, unrealistic and unbelievable character graphs. What makes it worse are the poor dialogues and a weak villain.
Also, the set action pieces are generic, predictable and forgettable. The camerawork lacks style and imagination.
Overall, this film is unimpressive and a big letdown failing to highlight the title, "Shadow Recruit".