“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is Paramount Pictures’ latest attempt to revive an old, respected franchise. The Jack Ryan film series grossed over $800 million in the 90’s and early 2000s, making it a successful franchise that was later replaced by the “Mission: Impossible” series. Now, after 14 years and four movies, Chris Pine steps in as the new Jack Ryan, a character that has been previously played by stars such as Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Ben Affleck.
“Shadow Recruit” takes off following the events of 9/11, when the young economics student Jack Ryan drops out of his Ph.D. program in London to serve his country in Afghanistan. Years later, Jack, now a covert CIA analyst on Wall Street, must go to Moscow to prevent a terrorist attack organized by the Russians that threatens the United States and its entire economy.
You may recognize Pine as Captain Kirk from the “Star Trek” reboot and its recent successful sequel. He has yet to be labeled as a Hollywood star, yet he manages to play a believable Jack Ryan, displaying a commendable range of emotions. For instance, when Jack kills an enemy for the first time in his life, you see that he is nervous and shaking afterwards, and therefore feel that he is more relatable as a character. Because the movie covers a considerable span of Ryan’s life, viewers are able to bond with the character before jumping into the action. Overall, I believe that Pine is a better fit as Jack Ryan than the heavily-criticized Affleck, who played the role in the franchise’s previous movie, “The Sum of All Fears.”
However, the best performance is by director Kenneth Branagh, who plays the film’s main villain, Viktor Cherevin. His emotionless yet hard-boiled character makes this movie worth watching.
“Shadow Recruit” is like a “Mission: Impossible” wannabe; it takes the safe route. By following the rules and clichés of a typical action movie without taking any risks, “Shadow Recruit” feels like a déjà vu of all your favorite action movies. It does not have stars like Tom Cruise or Angelina Jolie to draw people to theaters, and you may even predict the ending after you are halfway through the movie. Yet the cinematography, directing, and acting will keep you watching until the end.
With the potential “Shadow Recruit” had as a previously well-established franchise, I would have liked to see an original storyline with a number of plot twists instead of a very neat reboot. The 9/11 catastrophe, while clearly an important tragic event in America’s history, is becoming overused in Hollywood. Russia as the United States’ sworn enemy has also been done one too many times. However, for a movie whose purpose is to continue an old franchise while introducing new actors to the series, I will leave the sequel to determine Jack Ryan’s ultimate fate.
You can watch “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” in theaters now.