2013 / Director. Kenneth Branagh.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is an insult from the get go. The poster proudly declares that it is based on characters created by Tom Clancy but who are they kidding? This isn't a Jack Ryan story. There are nine novels in Clancy's Jack Ryan series (five of which have not been adapted yet) as well as a further eight spin-off books... and yet this new movie claims to be the fifth instalment in the film franchise, following THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, PATRIOT GAMES, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER and THE SUM OF ALL FEARS... ha. What a joke. This is an entirely new story. Tom Clancy's character has a history and a back-story. He was born in 1950 and through the book his entire life and career can be mapped out... but this new film has the audacity to rewrite his story. SHADOW RECRUIT has Jack attending college on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attack. He's young guy in a modern world and that just doesn't sit right with me.
And so the only way I could watch SHADOW RECRUIT was to dissociate it from the character I already know so well. While I cringe whenever his name is mentioned I was eventually able to suspend my disbelief enough to fully enjoy the movie on a more basic level. Kenneth Branagh directs (and acts in) this film with Chris Pine in the lead and support performances from Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley. As far as spy and espionage films go, SHADOW RECRUIT is a belter. Jack is recruited into the CIA and assigned to investigate suspicious financial transactions on Wall Street in the wake of 9/11. After 10 years undercover he discovers hidden Russian finances that suggest a pending terrorist attack. It's from this moment that he is sent to Russia under the guise of a company man that things ramp up, leading to an action-packed suspense thriller that moves at lightning speed. While the film does rely on some contrived and caricatured bad-guy elements, it feels classic. There's an almost Hitchcockian feel to the movie and in a further departure from the Clancy character, Ryan is now a Jason Bourne style action hero. The chases and fight scenes are well handled and the overall film is top notch in my mind.... Chris Pine plays the character really well and adds sincerity and humanity that was perhaps lacking from previous films. I can only imagine how great he would have been as Jack Ryan in a faithful adaptation, set some years ago. I don't need historical context or relevance in this series... I want something that is true to the world that Tom Clancy created.
But Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan this IS NOT!