JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT (2014, Paramount Pictures/Skydance Productions, USA/Russia, 105 mins, Colour, 2.35:1, SDDS/Datasat/Dolby Digital/Dolby Surround 7.1, Cert: 12, Action/Thriller) ∗∗∗∗∗
Starring: Chris Pine (Jack Ryan), Keira Knightley (Cathy Muller), Kevin Costner (Thomas Harper), Kenneth Branagh (Viktor Cherevin), Lenn Kudrjawizki (Constantin), Alec Utgoff (Aleksandr Borovsky), Peter Andersson (Dimitri Lemkov), Elena Velikanova (Katya), Nonso Anozie (Embee Deng), Seth Ayott (Teddy Hefferman), Colm Feore (Rob Behringer), Gemma Chan (Amy Chang).
Producer: David Barron, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mace Neufeld, Mark Vahradian; Director: Kenneth Branagh; Writer: Adam Cozad, David Koepp (based on characters created by Tom Clancy); Director of Photography: Haris Zambarloukos (DeLuxe); Music: Patrick Doyle; Film Editor: Martin Walsh; Production Designer: Andrew Laws; Art Director: Stuart Kearns; Set Decorator: Judy Farr; Costume Designer: Jill Taylor.
Chris Pine becomes the fourth actor in five films to play Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. This is the first film, however, not to be based on one of Clancy’s books and is in essence an origins story. Here, Jack Ryan is in his early career as a young covert CIA analyst when he uncovers a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.
By making Ryan younger and with heavy nods to his heroic military career this is an attempt to turn Ryan into more of an intelligent action hero than deskbound analyst. Pine has the right amount of energy and exuberance for the role and acquits himself admirably. Knightley becomes the fourth actress to portray his fiancée, Catrhy Muller (later his wife), but they lack the chemistry of the Harrison Ford/Anne Archer partnership of PATRIOT CAMES and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. Director Branagh also portrays the chief Russian heavy and there is a distinct cold war feel to the modern setting, which mirrors the increasingly cold relations between the US and Russia. The plot seems convoluted and demanding of attention, but in reality is rather simplistic and lacking in scale. Branagh’s direction prefers dialogue and exposition to be punctuated by bursts of adrenalin fuelled action. His camerawork however adopts the shaky style of the BOURNE trilogy and is a little off-putting with fast edits often adding confusion to the scenes. Also on board is Costner as Ryan’s first mentor, but he is largely on the periphery of the action.
Despite the uneven pace, this remains an enjoyable resurrection, but like its predecessor THE SUM OF ALL FEARS, which tried to re-launch the series with Ben Affleck as a younger Ryan, its movement into Bond and Bourne territory may leave it too indistinguishable to progress the series any further.