I’ve always been largely indifferent to the Jack Ryan franchise, but since it has been rebooted yet again, I decided to give Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit a go. It’s certainly not going to change the course of cinema, but it is a satisfying genre thriller with enough suspense to pass muster.
The plot is a kind of Ryan-Begins origin story, showing how a wounded, post Afghanistan conflict Ryan (Chris Pine) met CIA operative Harper (Kevin Costner), and subsequently became a CIA analyst. Ryan’s information on a potential terrorist attack that could collapse the US economy leads to an undercover operation in Russia, with Kenneth Branagh providing the requisite vodka swilling villain. By the way, Branagh also directs.
All things considered, this is rather good fun. Branagh stages some reasonably tense set pieces, makes good use of locations, and the film has an old school Cold War spy movie feel that I found very appealing. The cast perform reasonably well, though I can give or take Keira Knightley providing the hoary how-will-the-other-half-react-when-she-discovers-he’s-a-spy subplot. Clearly the film is intended as an invitation for further instalments, though it hasn’t exactly set the box office on fire.
In short, if you want a bit of mindless escapism, you can do a lot worse than Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.