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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - Film Review

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by Louis Fameli (subscribe)
Courtesy of Paramount Pictures Australia, I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Based on the Tom Clancy character, the film is an action/drama/thriller film set in the present day United States, featuring Chris Pine, Keira Knightly, Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit poster
Image courtesy of Paramount and Wikipedia

The film opens with a young Ryan (Pine) at university in London, witnessing the September 11 attacks on the news. These events inspire the PhD student to drop his studies and enlist as a marine, eventually serving in Afghanistan. Through circumstances I won't get into here, Ryan finds himself signed up with the CIA, investigating terrorism funding while posing as an investment analyst on Wall Street.

[ADVERT]When another day at the office brings some unexpected developments, Ryan finds himself in Moscow with a view to meeting partner company heavyweight Viktor Cherevin (Branagh). It wouldn't be giving anything away to say that Cherevin is not just a businessman, he has other more sinister plans. These plans involve restoring his native Russia to glory, with the United States not faring so well.

The performances in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit are well executed, with solid casting. Pine plays the hero character as you would expect, relatively straightforward without being ridiculously over the top. He manages to be both a believable action hero and handle the suspenseful thriller scenes with aplomb. A small disclaimer here, I haven't watch much of the previous Jack Ryan films, so I'm reluctant to give a "how was Pine as Ryan?" verdict here.

The supporting cast are equally impressive, with Costner a convincing CIA handler with a dry wit guiding Ryan through the ropes, Branagh enjoying his turn as villainous Cherevin, and Knightly playing the requisite girlfriend role as Cathy. This type of role in a film like Jack Ryan usually sticks to a certain script, and while Cathy isn't an exception, Knightly has a few particularly funny lines and plenty to do on screen.

There are a mixture of fast-paced action sequences and slower burning scenes in Jack Ryan. These work well in tandem, pacing the film and allowing the viewer breathing space between the action. While there were a couple of moments where I wasn't exactly sure what was happening on screen, these were fleeting and certainly don't warrant a complaint.

Overall, if you're looking for an action movie, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is worth the price of a ticket stub. With sound casting, great action sequences and a solid storyline, it is everything you ask for in this type of film.


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