“Shadow Recruit” chronicles the early day of Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), a then financial Ph.D pursuer who decided to serve his nation following the 9/11 incident. But critical injury he sustained during one of the missions in Afghanistan dramatically ends his career in the Marine. During a lengthy rehab, he meets his future wife, Cathy (Kiera Knightley) and the CIA officer William Harper (Kevin Costner) who recruits him as a financial analyst for the agency. In one of those routine assignments as a part of his undercover at a Wall Street firm, Jack uncovers evidence of a Russian conspiracy to destroy the U.S. economy, led by a spiteful Russian businessman (Kenneth Branagh).
True to its January-release status, “Shadow Recruit” is essentially another generic spy thriller on the outlook. But there are things that make this reboot workable while there are also things that do not. The plot story, for instance, comes out 20 years too late and it looks ridiculous to paint the Russian as the sour-grape villain who lost the cold war. So I get that Jack Ryan is a Cold war relic but it does not necessary gets the job done by connecting to the present palette and setting. The plot is very convoluted and ridiculous, yet is still brainier than others. The second act is quite interestingly and also terrifying with that Moscow-set chase but the ultimatum act in New York is pretty much a ho-hum.
Much of the plot elements while remain intact and serviceable, are also largely familiar. Perhaps it is apt to say that “Shadow Recruit” is at times, feels more like an American version of old Bond classics with over-the-top villains and disposable characters. But with Chris Pine on the shoe as the titular character, we still able to see how he constantly looks tense from those fistfights, car chases and attempting to download information from the baddies’ laptop. There are plenty of action setups in the movies that are quite pulsating and energetic to watch but also at the expense of been too corny and cheesy to deal.
Director Kenneth Branagh injects a different form of bites and pieces into the story by offering energetic narration and exposition to handle the geo-politic espionage event. Much like his more mainstream productions like “Thor” or the kind of Shakespearean style he is more well-known for, this movie never seems to miss its opportunity to display some abstract and poetic moments. Who would have thought that a Napoelon-painting could provide more into the story?
For this reboot, Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh himself do fine to fit in those roles even when there are times these characters are portrayed as been stereotypical and flimsy. But my biggest problem with the cast is Kiera Knightley, whom I thought serves no other purposes than to distract our heroes and villains in the most annoying way.
Been said, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is just an okay espionage thriller film that sees much of its story been overly too familiar and dated, but it just breezes through by getting its job done with those typical and generic spy action sequences, convoluted but brainier plot.