Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit Review: A Smart, secret thriller
Smart, clever, thrilling, and well-done, this is unique “agent” thriller that can hold its own when compared to other similar films. It’s plausible, well-paced, and intriguing. If you are a fan of the older jack ryan movies, you’re going to enjoy this one! While it is a reboot and subtle differences had to be made, this still feels distinct as a#TomClancy film, as it should be. Go Check it out, you won’t be disappointed.
” You have to eventually start trusting someone jack…..sit down….”
In movies today, we’re in a world of Liam Neeson in Taken, Angelina Jolie in Salt, Matt Damon in the Bourne trilogy (minus The Bourne Legacy) But before all of them was former Marine and CIA analyst Dr. Jack Ryan from the world of Tom Clancy. We’ve seen Jack before in The Hunt for Red October with Alec Baldwin, two movies with Harrison Ford, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, and finally, Ben Affleck with The Sum of All Fears. Each of those actors portrayed Dr. Ryan. The last film we saw of Jack was in 2002.
So……you may be asking yourself…’Who the @#$! is Jack Ryan?” Jack Ryan is the patriotic hero of many novels from Tom Clancy’s books. He originated in those novels, written in the time of The Cold War during the 1980’s. At this time, the battle of ideologies between Soviet Russian and the United States was reaching a boiling point, with newer deadlier weapons of mass destruction being built. Weapons with the capacity to wipe out much of the world’s population. The Cold War has been known as a secret war of information, infiltration, covert operations, and deception. The ultimate tool in this war is the truth. This is where the character was made.
In the aforementioned films, based on their respective novels, he stops at nothing to reveal the truth. He is dedicated to American justice and fights all odds for what is right. But he’s an analyst. He doesn’t always use his fists and bullets. But he does kick ass when he has to defend himself to, which he does several times. He is described as the classic “Boy scout.” He uses his mind, instinct, intellect, all in defense of the Constitution of the United States, no matter where the trail leads. He eventually becomes President too. He has sworn an oath to this country, with his heart, mind, and soul. He will live and die defending that oath. That’s his commitment.
Now, for this new movie, this new one IS NOT based on any novels, so brace for a different but familiar kind of Dr. Ryan and Tom Clancy. It makes sense as we are in a different world. The Cold War is over. The Berlin Wall fell. Communism is, effectively, dissolved. It’s a world focusing on terrorism and highly organized crime. Drug cartels and rogue individuals hell-bent on their own intentions, no matter the hurt they inflict. Terms like “Neo-Nazi”, “Mother Russia” “Jihad” being the terms that replace “ICMB” “Mutually-Assured Destruction” and ” WWIII.” While a nuclear “dirty bomb” is always a danger, nuclear holocaust is not as imminent as it was in the days before 1990. (I’m saying this having seen Countdown to Zero)
That being said, we enter a modern reboot of the character, with his history routed straight into real-life, just like Tom Clancy novels and games. We see Jack start his quest into the world of tactical espionage, having personally witnessed 9/11, and proceed from there. Chris Pine makes a fantastic, young Dr. Ryan. Captain Kirk himself provides a different array of talent. He’s raw, innocent, a green horn, but starts honing his skills in pursuing the truth against all odds, analyzing his target. He’s new to this life but adapts to it. This is his origin story.He has a mentor, Kevin Costner, who cleverly teaches him the ropes to being a deep agent. Learning the ropes form Cosnter’s character, Jack steps up to ever rising challenges. Keira Knightly stars as Jack’s wife, who delivers a good performance but ultimately proves to be a supporting actress and a damsel in distress. However, she does demonstrate the challenge of romance in a world of clandestine operations.
Finally, the director himself, Sir Keneth Branagh, stars as the main villain. He provided a very solid arch nemesis to Dr. Ryan, mentioning major political military events such as the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan, which occurred in the 1980’s and led to the most successful covert operation the CIA ever mounted. During moments, I actually liked the cleverness of the villain, fueld by his pride for the former Soviet Union. All in all, between the heroes and villains, it creates a sense of depth and likability. The bad guys got some points across that had me say’You know, he’s right” which I liked as these weren’t brain dead bad guys but villains with a strong purpose and back story in the theater of geo-political and military affairs. Bottom line: Story was very solid.
Sound, camera work, music, did give it a modern style and at one point, it reminded me of that sense of tension you may have gotten with the first CoD Game, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. (You know, in the cutscenes, not the action itself) While modern, it still felt like an old-fashioned “America vs Russia Cold War” atmosphere. Plus, it featured a Russian chorus, which is really important for movies like this. I don’t know why, but it scares that sh** out of me sometimes, it’s so epic!
The only drawbacks that this film suffers from is lack of aggressive marketing and lack of content. The music clocks at 1hr 45 minutes. I wouldve wanted this to have been extended, seeing Dr. Ryan progress more and delivering more action as well as story. As for marketing, you probably didn’t even know that this film is preceded by four other films of the same character. Also, the director also directed the first Thor movie in 2011! If people knew these things, they’d go see this movie! Though now you know so you should see this.
The movie concludes on a closing note but you can tell that Paramount Pictures is counting on this to be successful to make more. They put a lot of heart into this, especially not being based on a novel. And i’d have to say that as I left the theater, i was very impressed! It’s clear that Chris Pine’s Jack Ryan is not over and there is a very solid foundation to build upon this. As an avid fan of Tom Clancy and the Jack Ryan area of the series, I enjoyed this movie and encourage all to see it. If you can, see the other films to delve into the fiction. Smart, clever, thrilling, and well-done, this is unique “agent” thriller that can hold its own when compared to other similar films. It’s plausible, well-paced, and intriguing. You’ll have a good time. Hope to see more, Paramount!