Film Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is suitably entertaining action thriller. Nonetheless, it lacks originality and depth.

A former Marine, a young Jack Ryan is headhunted by the CIA. As a covert CIA analyst, Ryan uncovers some unusual stock market activity which leads him on a trail to Moscow…

Many readers and cinemagoers will be familiar with the Jack Ryan character. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit takes him back to the beginning, charting his induction to the CIA and the case which establishes his reputation. The film paints Ryan like a superhero or James Bond figure, and this film is his origins story.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit‘s narrative is by the numbers. There is little inventiveness to distinguish it from other action thrillers. The film lacks complexity; the narrative is too lean to feel substantial. The Russian antagonist is reminiscent of Cold War-era Bond films, and as a result comes across as a bit of a caricature.

There are a number of aspects of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit which are dubious. The film certainly requires a suspension of disbelief. Ryan is extremely adept at the more physically demanding aspects of his role, for example, despite admitting his limited training.

The action sequences are slick thanks to the editing and Kenneth Branagh’s direction. The ending however does lack a little fizz. The film is slick, thanks to its cinematography. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has a glossy sheen; it is a shame the plotting does not quite match the polished visuals.

Chris Pine is suitably cast as the action hero title character. It is a shame that both he and Kevin Costner are not given meatier roles. Branagh hams it up a little as Cherevin.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an entertaining (albeit mindlessly) ride. Audiences expecting more substance might be disappointed by the generic thriller.