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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is Hollywood’s latest attempt to try and reinvent the Jack Ryan character and movie series. The role of Tom Clancy’s CIA Operative has been played before by numerous actors including Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck. None of those actors stuck with the role for very long though and the series faded into obscurity for a while. Now Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions are back with this new film which gives the series a Jason Bourne style makeover. Shadow Recruit is technically a reboot for the series and the first movie about the Jack Ryan character that is not based on a Tom Clancy book.
The film stars Chris Pine as a younger Jack Ryan who is still wet behind the ears and working as a CIA Analyst, this Jack Ryan has little combat experience and is a fish out of water in dangerous situations. Ryan uncovers a Russian plot to destroy the world’s economies and is ordered to investigate the threat as a field operative. He catches a plane to Russia and discovers the mastermind behind the plan is a man called Viktor Cherevin (played by Kenneth Branagh who also directs the film.) Cherevin gets rather miffed when he learns the CIA are onto him and he sends his enforcers to kill Ryan which is when all the action starts. The situation is complicated further when Ryan’s missus Cathy (Keira Knightley) decides to pay him a surprise visit in Russia, by appearing unannounced she puts herself in the firing line and is forced to try and stay alive alongside her husband.
Chris Pine has a nice everyman quality which makes him ideal for his role and he is also a convincing action man. Knightley was inspired casting and she should bring her A-game to the role of Cathy Ryan, hopefully she will not be just a damsel in distress which would be a waste of a good actress. It’s also surprising to see Branagh cast as the bad guy here and he appears to be enjoying himself. Kevin Costner is also well cast as Ryan’s no-nonsense handler and mentor who believes he can save the day.
The action scenes in the trailer seem well choreographed which is always good and the music is suitably dramatic too. It’s a well made trailer which avoids giving away spoilers and leaves the viewer wondering how Ryan will fix things. The biggest potential problem with the film is the sudden change of direction for the series, some diehard fans might avoid the movie because it doesn’t meet with their lofty expectations. In the novels and previous films Ryan was not really an action hero/field operative type and more of a desk bound analyst. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit doesn’t seem like a traditional Jack Ryan story and this will no doubt annoy some diehard fans of the books.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Operative has the potential to be a well crafted and entertaining film. It may polarize fans of the books and earlier films but it may also win over some new action thriller fans too. The movie will be out on December 26th, check out the trailer and share your thoughts.