Chris Pine spiffs up the Jack Ryan series, walking in a different direction from predecessor actors such as Harrison Ford (Patriot Games) and Golden Globe winner Alec Baldwin(The Hunt for Red October), he breathes new life into this 30-year-old franchise.

Economics PhD student Jack Ryan drops out of school after the twin tower bombings and a year and a half later, becomes a lieutenant flying over Afghanistan until it gets shot down by enemy troops and survives by sheer luck. Back on American soil, Ryan recovers at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he meets medical student Cathy (Keira Knightley) (who helps him through his physical therapy) and, most importantly, Harper (Kevin Costner), a jaded CIA veteran hoping to recruit him as a young operative in intelligence.

10 years later and after converting Cathy into his fiancé who knows nothing of the double life he leads, Ryan is a smooth operator collecting financial intelligence for the government. When he finds evidence of that Russia is planning to unravel the financial system of the world, suddenly, he can no longer just be the brainiac crunching numbers at his desk, but needs to brandish weapons and dodge killers as the CIA operative he was trained to be.

A reboot of Clancy’s 2-decades dated USA-Russia rivalry mixed in with some post 9/11 terrorism, Shadow Recruit is a timely, although formulaic recipe of beating the clock and saving the world. In other words: dull, predictable and overused.

The plot’s most tense moment is ruined when, surprise, surprise, the man with the plan’s taken down by a beautiful woman when villain Viktor Cherevin (played by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed this film and Thor) meets Cathy. They say that every man has his downfall, but to think that Cherevin could be so easily swayed is baffling.

As the clock ticks down to crunch time, the plot loses its momentum and Cherevin’s plans for destroying America quickly degenerate into cut scenes of fist fights and fancy car chases through Wall Street that never really touch on how Ryan threw together the details of the attack.

The plot, which isn’t based on any of Clancy’s fine stories, is flimsy, and you can say that the movie’s a collection of tropes rolled and beaten into shape, thankfully, the actors’ performances manage to save the day. Pine sheds the cockiness of James T. Kirk and brings some human vulnerability to his character that juxtaposes with the chilly calm that the CIA portrays, Knightley shows steely composure that throws Cathy straight into the plot as she makes time for Ryan so figure out the enemy’s plans, and Costner brings with him dry wit when he asks Ryan to talk him through “his very scary scenario” after an attack on Ryan’s life was made.

Although it can’t claim to have Bourne’s well-paced and believably intriguing plots or James Bond’s gadgets and exotic locations, Jack Ryan: Show Recruit still manages to hold its own among this season of reboots.


Rating: 3/5
Runtime: 105 mins
Language: English
Censorship Rating: PG
Genre: Action, Comedy
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Main Cast: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner