Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – Film Review
Spoiler alert: Chris Pine’s hotness is still elusive. It’s all in the angles.
Also, something about spies?
TL;DR High production values and an absence of melodrama ensure Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a modest success. But the only thing special about it is the insane decision to make Keira Knightley do an American accent. 3 out of 5 stars.
Isn’t that, like, a crime?
The plot is extremely typical spy stuff, Russians and all. Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is a former Marine who is recruited by Kevin Costner to join the CIA. He does undercover stuff while working at a Wall Street business, and also has a relationship with Cathy (Keira Knightley). A new mission sees him going into action in Russia to foil a scheme by an Evil Russian Businessman who wants to use a terror attack on Wall Street, combined with something something business stuff something to cause a second Great Depression. Jack does spy stuff and eventually foils both Evil Russian Businessman and the bombing in New York.
Did anyone else kinda wanna see the bomb go off, though?
The thing that mostly bothered me when I came away from this movie (apart from my vexation with Chris Pine’s face) was the fact that there’s nothing modern or innovative or present about it at all. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit could have been set at any point in the last 25 years, and the only things they’d have to change would be the Semptember 11 impetus and the speed of the computer hacking.
It just makes me question: why now?
Why I hate this movie:
As a smaller thing, the aspect of the movie that pissed me off the most was Cathy’s inclusion in the Evil Russian Businessman dinner scheme. Cathy turns up at the hotel, learns for the first time that Jack is a CIA agent, is outrageously cool about it, gets a 3 second briefing, and then goes from Zero to Super Spy at the dinner. What the fuck? How on Earth are we supposed to accept that? Cathy’s a doctor, not an Oscar winning actress.
Also, Keira Knightley doing an American accent? Utter blasphemy. To her credit, she pulls it off very well. But for the first few scenes with her I lost all concept of reality as my brain tried to comprehend what it was experiencing.
Chris Pine is the 2nd worst Jack Ryan. I know it’s tough coming up against in-his-prime Alec Baldwin and pre-the-effects-of-gravity Harrison Ford, but that’s life. At least he’s not Ben Affleck.
I wanted to see the bomb blow some shit up.
I wanted to see Keira eat some exploded light bulb.
Kevin Costner steals a dog at one point for no real reason, then leaves Jack with it. Jack doesn’t know where it came from, so he won’t know where to return it. Rude.
Jack has a bit of a sook over his first kill while on the job. I don’t know if I really care about that.
Jack takes charge of a unit of CIA agents and barks orders at them frantically in a “this is the main character being very impressive” scene. Despite Jack claiming to Kevin earlier that he’s just an analyst and that’s all he knows. Inconsistent.
Oh, and at the dinner scene, Jack consumes enough wine to trick Evil Russian Businessman into thinking he’s drunk enough to be a complete cock to his fiancé. So wouldn’t Jack have been a little actually drunk, then?
But it’s not all bad:
Chris Pine does a good job of being human and relatable as a super spy. His sooking over the kill might have been a bit blah, but it does make him less of a killing machine cliché like vintage James Bond.
Evil Russian Businessman is a refreshingly multifaceted villain, too. He’s got terminal cancer, which makes him a bit sympathetic, but the movie doesn’t hit the melodrama pedal too hard. He’s also shown to be under pressure from an even badder boss, who curtly executes him after his plan fails.
And he gave up his son as a child so he could become a sleeper agent. That’s commitment to the bit. A solid effort.
Keira Knightley spices up the obligatory girlfriend role by being an integral (if unbelievable) part of the scheme. She’s also a doctor. And she actually ends up comforting Jack when they have their post-action embrace at the end of the film. I liked that.
Jack stops the van that Evil Russian Businessman is kidnapping Keira in by running on foot and leaping into it as it comes around a corner. That’s pretty badass.
Nonso Anozie plays a hitman, and the first person Jack has to kill. Anything to remind me of Dracula.
Oh, and there’s a bit early on where Marine Jack is in a helicopter and he’s trying to teach a colleague how to do up his seatbelt. During the final showdown with the sleeper agent in the finale, Jack uses those same seatbelt tying skills to anchor the steering wheel of the van so he can get into the back of the van and keep fighting. Callbacks, baby.
I can think of worse ways to spend your time. But you’ll have to wait until the next episode of Ravenswood is out for that. 3 out of 5 stars.