Movie Review – Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit



Based on the character created by Tom Clancy, Pine is the 4th actor to portray CIA Agent Jack Ryan, who has now appeared in 5 movies. Apart from this last instalment, there has been ….

The Sum of All Fears (2002) Played by Ben Affleck

Clear and Present Danger (1994) Played by Harrison Ford

Patriot Games (1992) Played by Harrison Ford

The Hunt for Red October (1990) Played by Alec Baldwin.

This, however, is the first movie not based on a Clancy book. So it’s a stand alone within the franchise. But is that a good thing?

The movie opens with Ryan at Uni, a student of economics witnessing, along with the rest of the world, the horror of 9/11. He then enlists as a US Marine and subsequently sustains very serious injuries while serving in Afghanistan. During his recuperation, he is approached by CIA operative Harper (Costner) who recruits him into the CIA.

Ryan works undercover for a financial institution and when he notices strange banking transactions and accounts on certain Russian held deposits, he is sent to Russia to investigate.

When he was initially recruited, he was warned it was a lonely job as he could never disclose to anyone who he really was or what he did for a living. Things become awkward for Ryan at home when his fiancée Cathy (Knightley) suspects him of having an affair. The more he tries to dodge her questions, the more suspicious she becomes ….. every woman who has suspected a partner of an affair will understand.


When Cathy unexpectedly appears in Russia while Ryan is working, she is recruited into helping Ryan nail the bad guy. This bad guy is Viktor Cherevin (Branagh), the puppet master behind the Russian attempt to bring down the US economy. Cherevin has a weakness for beautiful, married women and so Cathy is to keep Branagh occupied at a dinner while Ryan does his CIA spy stuff.

On the evening of the dinner, all goes well. Branagh is entranced by Cathy as Ryan makes his excuses and leaves the restaurant for a short while. In fact, the dinner scenes with Cathy and Cherevin are the best in the movie. Branagh is a dialogue actor and the tension and attraction between the pair is palpable. Knightley plays the part of the alluring flirt to perfection…..and I am not a huge Knightley fan.

Sadly, that’s about as good as it gets. Yes this is a good action/spy thriller. Yes the cast is good and the effects are as one would expect from a movie of this calibre. But that’s about it. It’s just good.

It has everything a good thriller should have. A handsome good guy (and they do not come much more handsome than Pine and those blue eyes). A nurturing and congenial mentor, a beautiful love interest, a smooth if slightly smarmy bad guy. Lots of action and car chases, guns, plot, schemes, double-crossing and taut ‘almost gotcha’ moments.

But it never manages to be anything more than average. It is completely interchangeable with any other decent spy thriller. And that’s a shame.

No doubt this movie will be a big hit but that doesn’t mean its great. I really was expecting more and must say I was disappointed. Not terribly so but just…..well yeah.

Go and see it if you like the big budget spy movies, just don’t expect to be anything more than mindlessly entertained for a few hours.

Love Flick xx


Director :   Kenneth Branagh

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

Running Time : 105 minutes

Release Date :  16 January, 2014

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