Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit–Silly, Overplotted Thriller

Jack Ryan, as most of you know, is  the super-CIA-guy hero of best-selling techno-thriller novels by the late Tom Clancy.

The character was played before, to much better effect, by Alec Baldwin (the first and best), Harrison Ford (mediocre), and Ben Affleck (the weakest)

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” isn’t adapted from any of the Clancy novels. In fact, it didn’t originate as a Jack Ryan story.

Adam Cozad’s original script (sharing writing credit with David Koepp) was called “Dubai.”  But the setting was changed for the movie to Moscow.

The tale, which is neither realistic nor credible on any level, follows Ryan from his quiet double-life as a veteran-turned-Wall Street executive to his all-out initiation as a hunted American agent on the trail of a massive terrorist plot in Moscow.

On the surface, Ryan appears to be just another New York executive to his friends and loved ones, but his enlistment into the CIA secretly goes back years.  He was brought in as a brainy Ph.D. who crunches global data – but when Ryan ferrets out a meticulously planned scheme to collapse the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it.

When he getfully operational, thrust into a world of mounting suspicion, deception and deadly force. Caught between his tight-lipped handler Harper (Kevin Costner), his in-the-dark fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley) and a brilliant Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh), Ryan must confront a new reality where no one can seem to be trusted, yet the fate of millions rests on his finding the truth.  With the urgency of a lit fuse, he’s in a race to stay one step ahead of everyone around him.

This globe-trotting thrillers stops along the way in London, Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., New York, and even Dearborn, Michigan.

Unfortunately, the movie feels so generic, despite (or perhaps because of) its high-gloss, big-budget.

“Jack Ryan” is slick but loud, silly in its overplotting, emotionally hollow at its center, and only sporadically entertaining.  But you cannot blame Pine, handsome, alert and fast on his feet, or the rest of the ensemble.

No wonder Paramount had pushed back the release from December to late January, the month known for the releases of mediocre or bad pictures.


MPAA Rating: PG-13

Running time: 106 Minutes

Director:Kenneth Branagh

Screenplay: Adam Cozad, David Koepp, based on characters created by Tom Clancy

Cast: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh