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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.

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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