Monday, June 16, 2014

Now at Netflix: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) - Directed by Kenneth Branagh; Written by Adam Cozad, David Koepp; Starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner.

By Kenny Howell

Jack Ryan films have always been a kind of smart diversion from the normal action fare.

But there is one glaring thing that is holding back Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. This really isn't Jack Ryan.

Apparently, Jack Ryan, who appeared first on film in 1990's The Hunt for Red October, now, apparently, didn't even go into the military until after Sept. 11. 2001. By this timeline, he would have been about 10 or 11 years old when Alec Baldwin first played him in that submarine film as a man in at least his 30s.  I am just a casual observer of the character, but I am sure people who love the character were kind of furious.

If you can get past that fact, the movie is actually pretty entertaining. It's fairly formulaic, but it is pretty well done compared to the rest of the films that hit the theaters in January and February.

Chris Pine takes on the lead role this time, as we see Ryan finish school, go to Afghanistan, get shot down, and gain interest from the CIA. They hire him on as a financial analyst to examine the market, and see if any sort of terrorist activities could be arising. He uncovers a Russian plot which could could send the world in another great depression. The CIA sends him to Moscow, but he is attacked as soon as he sets foot in his hotel. After escaping, he must investigate Viktor Cherevin (Branagh), the man he believes is behind the scheme. The action really amps up from that point as the terrorist plot goes much deeper and Ryan must race to end it.

Beside the obvious flaw of the Jack Ryan character seemingly being lost in time, Shadow Recruit has other problems. One of them is a total waste of Keira Knightley. I am actually kind of surprised that Knightley took the role. She plays the role of a confused girlfriend who doesn't know her boyfriend is in the CIA, and that of a damsel in distress. For a woman who usually gravitates toward meatier roles, this one seems a little shallow.

All in all, the movie is a breezy action film with a bit of a brain. I have a feeling if the character was named something different, completely separate from the famous character, it would have worked a bit better.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is also available on Redbox, iTunes and Amazon.

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