Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

jack ryanJack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – 3/5 – Spy Movies; No matter what kind of spy film you have (action; international; American or origin) you never can go wrong with them.  With a spy film, no matter how cliché or deeply involving the film is, the thrill and suspense will always keep it entertaining.  This film is one film that doesn’t deter from this description. An origin of sorts, the movie mixes international locals with modern terrorism.  Even with some predictable plot elements and cheesy characters, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a thrilling ride.

Premise:  In this reimaging tale; Jack Ryan, a young covert CIA analyst, founds a plot created by A Russian industrialist that would crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack.

Playing the role of the titular character is Chris Pine.  From Star Trek fame; Chris Pine does a good job in recreating a character made famous by writer, Tom Clancy.  In this reimaging, he brings a modernized approach; creating someone that is smart and calculated, but stern and physical.  No matter the situation, he is able to work his wits and skill to carry out his mission when the action intensifies.   Through it all, his actions are believable, and his on-screen persona is delicate but evolving.  You watch as he brings this ‘novice’ agent through all the turmoil of this first mission, as he comes out a better man and stronger agent for the CIA.   On the surface, you see a lot of typical ‘spy agent’ charm, but it isn’t enough to deter from all the other elements Chris Pine brings.  In the end, you see a standout individual for a standard film.  Outside of him, we have the following:

Kevin Costner as Thomas Harper (Mentor)

Keira Knightley as Cathy Muller (Love Interest)

Kenneth Branagh as VIktor Cherevin (Antagonist)

The two actors above help add good flavor to the film through their supporting roles.  Each play standard roles that you would find in any kind of spy film, but they do enough to stand out.  This is done through their monologues and interactions that have with Jack Ryan.  Keira Knightley’s character is somewhat the odd person out in this film.  She plays the love interest, and as much as her character has some importance to certain plot elements, her acting creates an annoying but serviceable individual.  Her interactions feel shoed in (for the love interest part), and notice the film drags when the focus is on her and Jack relationship.  Outside of these three, the rest of the supporting characters are typical archetypes you find in any spy films; government agents, aloof police and henchmen, ‘helper’ characters to both the pro and antagonist, and ‘innocent’ citizens that help create the ‘hysteria’ for the film.

The direction of the film is pretty standard for spy films.  With that, you will have the following:

Introductory to protagonist > Element of conflict/ antagonist identified > action and spy elements created through suspenseful sequences > Ultimate scenario /race against time > Danger averted/aftermath conclusion

This is the common outline you find in films like these.  You find it in this film as much as the others.  The one thing that makes it stand out is the intellectual story elements and the charming characters (minus Keira Knightley).  Also, we get are watching a reimaging of the Jack Ryan character with a new ‘origin’ for the modern era.  In the beginning, we are introduced to the main character; watching his early life as he goes from college student to CIA agent.  After this ‘montage’ of sorts; we fast forward 13 years (from 9/11) where he is working in a Financial Firm (Undercover for the CIA) to identify monetary elements that could tip off to terrorist activities.  From here, we get a lot of elements that point to ‘subtle’ building of the ‘who, what and where’ scenarios for the oncoming new threat to America.  Through this initial buildup, we watch as Jack Ryan evolves under Thomas Harper tutoring, going from a desk job analyst to an operative agent.  Once the film goes from New York to Moscow, we get introduced to the antagonist (Viktor Cherevin).  Here we then watch as the situation starts to grow tense, and the tone changes from the buildup to suspense after Jack Ryan and Viktor have a mental standoff.  Here, you see a level of ‘conspiracy of the modern times’ and ‘intelligence’ themes get introduced.  This creates a story element that is not stylized but believable, showing action and intent that is realistic as the movie unfolds.  With that raw aspect, you get a general mix of slick spy action, hostage situations, car chases that all lead to conspiracies linking to truths.  In those truths, we then get to the obvious cliché of an all out race to stop the attacks from happening.  This ‘race against time’ speeds up the films pace, and we watch as all the elements of the terroristic attacks fall into place conveniently.  Once the films speeds up, it jumps through a lot of timed logical gaps that will lace all the loose threads together, leading to a climax that is predictable but entertaining.  There isn’t any ‘over the top’ sequences in the final act or climax, and the whole ‘grounded’ feeling that you get in the spy elements is refreshing.   Once the film ends, everything ends in a typical wrapped up fashion.  In the end, we get a film that is a mix bag of thrills and suspense that is both entertaining but expected.

The visuals of the film are nothing spectacular, but are not a distraction.  The use of the camera angles in the action sequences are typical ‘quick shots’.  The aspects of this combined with the ‘modernized’ look help add subtle suspense to the spy elements.  Outside of the action elements, the general scope of this being an ‘international’ threat through locations used (Moscow, New York, etc.) helps create a worldly influence for the film.  The score helps pump up the thrilling aspect, but isn’t important to the overall enjoyment of the film.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a film that won’t reinvent the wheel, but it will give enough thrills that is worth the price of admission.  With a good re-imaging of the character with Chris Pine within a modernize story, you won’t be disappointed.  If you’re a fan of spy thrillers, this is one for you.

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