Synopsis: Based on the CIA analyst created by espionage master Tom Clancy, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a blistering action thriller that follows Ryan (Chris Pine, Star Trek) from his quiet double-life as a veteran-turned-Wall Street executive to his all-out initiation as a hunted American agent on the trail of a massive terrorist plot in Moscow.
Release Date: January 17, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Novelist Tom Clancy’s character Jack Ryan has enjoyed an almost James Bond-like filmic life, appearing in several standalone films and played by heavyweight actors like Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and Alec Baldwin. Keeping in the James Bond tradition, the newest Jack Ryan movie, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is based on the Clancy character, but is an original story not adapted from one of the author’s bestselling novels. And, it has recast the character, this time tapping young, hip A-lister Chris Pine (Captain Kirk from the Star Trek reboot) for the lead.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit begins with Jack as a PhD candidate studying in England when the events of 9/11 motivate him to join the Marines. His helicopter is shot down over Afghanistan and, after saving the lives of two of his men, his spine is damaged and he must spend painful, long hours in physical therapy in order to learn to walk again. In rehab, he meets two important people: his doctor, Cathy (Keira Knightley from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), and Navy commander Thomas Harper (No Way Out‘s Kevin Costner). Cathy becomes his fiancee, while Harper, impressed with his unfinished doctoral dissertation, offers him a job as a financial analyst with the CIA. Jack takes the job and, ten years later, he uncovers a Russian plot to ruin the American economy. Jack is sent off to Moscow to gather more information, but he and Harper soon find themselves trying to thwart a full-scale terrorist attack against the United States.
The screenplay for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible) and newcomer Adam Cozad, and it’s a pretty well-crafted political thriller. Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) injects as much action and adrenaline as he can into the intelligent script, resulting in a movie that is a treat for the eyes as well as the brain. Viewers do not need to be well-versed in the Clancy character’s mythology to enjoy Shadow Recruit. In fact, knowledge of the other Jack Ryan movies may actually be a hindrance, as Shadow Recruit plays with the timeline a bit, being set in present day and taking advantage of post-9/11 conspiracies and paranoia that didn’t exist when films such as Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games were made. In this way, Shadow Recruit is somewhat of a rebooting of the Jack Ryan character, updating him for the new millennium.
The main antagonist in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a Russian badass named Viktor Cherevin (played by Kenneth Branagh himself). Cherevin is not a typical, Cold War era Russian nuclear villain, nor is he a Reagan Era cartoon Soviet villain. Cherevin is a cold, calculating enemy, highly intelligent and extremely cunning. He will verbally spar with his adversaries, but isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. He’s a great character, one into which Branagh is really able to sink his teeth. It’s no wonder the director saved Viktor Cherevin for himself; he’s the most fun character in the film.
Jack Ryan is not James Bond. He’s not even Jason Bourne. He is a different kind of action hero altogether: a reluctant, thinking man’s agent. Chris Pine plays him well and, with a little luck, audiences will get to see him do it again.
The score for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was composed by longtime Kenneth Branagh collaborator Patrick Doyle (who also scored Thor, Dead Again, and Frankenstein for the director). The music in Shadow Recruit is the type of film soundtrack that takes every scene by the throat: huge, orchestral pieces that not only let the audience know when something is happening onscreen, but lets them know when it’s over and they can breathe again. It’s the type of high energy, percussive score that is necessary for a good action film, increasing the tension and suspense exponentially through its controlled dissonance. It’s difficult to imagine Shadow Recruit without Doyle’s music and, thankfully, audiences don’t have to.
For a film about plotting the financial collapse of a world superpower, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has a ton of great action scenes. Whether Jack is fighting off an assassin in his hotel room or racing after a terrorist van on a motorcycle, Shadow Recruit is one pulse-pounding sequence after another. Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos (another crew member Branagh carried over from Thor) uses camera motion in just about every shot, going from dizzying handheld chaos to smooth tracking, all of which help to build energy and suspense. The sequences are cut together in rapid-fire succession by editor Martin Walsh (who won an Oscar for Chicago, but who has also done high-octane flicks like V for Vendetta and Clash of the Titans), and the result is a combination of show-them-the-bomb suspense and in-your-face thrills. In a film full of heady exposition, the heart-racing action sequences are a nice break from all of that story following.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Kenneth Branagh
- Screenwriter(s): Adam CozadDavid Koepp
- Cast: Chris Pine (Jack Ryan)Keira Knightley (Cathy Muller)Kevin Costner (Thomas Harper) Kenneth Branagh (Viktor Cherevin)
- Editor(s): Martin Walsh
- Cinematographer: Haris Zambarloukos
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Patrick Doyle
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA