Film | Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Cool but clichéd

Image: Paramount Pictures

Chris Pine is the fourth actor to play Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan from the CIA. Unexpectedly though, Kenneth Branagh is the director. The recently knighted Shakespear veteran directs this fun action movie concerning the background of Jack Ryan and his eventual recruitment into the CIA. It’s like Batman Begins, but with no cool suits and automobiles, and the billionaire, in this case, Kenneth Branagh, is the bad guy.

Pine and his blue eyes are a good choice for Jack Ryan. He’s a big improvement on Ben Affleck’s rather wooden portrayal of the title character in The Sum of All Fears. Although admittedly, Affleck was going through his ‘whoever-pays-me-most-money’ phase. Branagh and Keira Knightley, who plays Ryan’s girlfriend, pull off convincing accents for their respective roles, which made me forget momentarily that their normal accent is the Queen’s English.

The plot feels somewhat formulaic. A Western guy, normally a secret agent with a hot girlfriend, takes on a cold hearted Russian baddie who wants to destroy America or the world. I thought the Cold War was over, but hey, old recipes for synopses work well. In this instance, Branagh as Viktor Cherevin wants to destroy Wall Street and so bring about “The Second Great Depression” as Ryan remarks in one of those moments so reminiscent of Hollywood action movies. You know the moments when the hero says something, then there’s a long pause, then he says something overdramatic in a low voice. There’s a few of those.

It’s an entertaining film though. The action scenes, complete with a cool car chase, are exciting. The film is very efficient in how it uses 105 minutes to tell a story. It’s no Bond film, but there are enough moments to keep you glued to your seat.

Harry Wise

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