'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' is a thriller that doesn't thrill

By Lauren Wheeler,
The ambiguous nature of the villain's motive makes Ryan seem less heroic
Author Rating: 
2.5 Stars

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is exactly what you think it would be. It is an average thriller with an underwhelming ending and over-dramatic dialogue. You are never convinced that any of the characters are truly in danger and it is confusing exactly what the antagonist is after.

Jack Ryan reminded me a lot of The Princess Diaries 2. Not in the literal sense, but both movies star Chris Pine, are based on books and waste a great group of actors on a lousy script. By the time the movie starts to get interesting, another lame plot twist ruins the excitement.

Jack Ryan is based on Tom Clancy’s novels of the same name. In this movie, it follows Jack Ryan from his time in the Afghanistan war to present day where he works for the CIA as an analyst searching Wall Street for any terrorist groups moving money.

Jack (Chris Pine) is happy with his desk job and his fiancée, Cathy (Keira Knightly), when he uncovers a Russian plot to attack the United States both financially and with a terrorist attack.

So the CIA and his boss at the firm on Wall Street (who doesn’t know he is in the CIA) send him to Russia to figure everything out.

It sounds interesting enough but somehow Jack Ryan finds a way to feel like it is too long but also seeming like there is more story that needs to be told. The problem lies with the villain of the film Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) and his motives.

Russia wants to attack the United States. It would be completely fitting if Jack Ryan, like the novel series, took place during the Cold War. However, because it takes place in present day, Viktor’s only reasoning seems to be, basically, “for mother Russia.” Why Russia wants to take out the U.S. is never really clear.

The geopolitics involved should have been explained better. At the beginning of the film, it is suggested that the U.S. votes against an oil pipeline that could have boosted Russia’s economy but destroyed Turkey’s.

Another point of the film that was off was the romance between Jack and Cathy. The writers should have decided to explore the relationship or downplay it. It seemed awkward the way that it was handled. Knightly shined as an independent doctor but also having never-ending faith in her boyfriend.

By the time of the climax, the cinematography was beautiful. Every action scene was performed perfectly and kept you on the edge of your seat. However, I never felt that anyone was in danger. Everything was too easy for everyone. That is a huge disappointment in this thriller.

Pine was perfectly OK. He proved his acting chops in People Like Us and Star Trek, but Jack Ryan was a step back.

Jack Ryan was a clean-cut, average thriller. There were no challenges for the actors and the audience was never truly enthralled in the plotline. For a story that had so much potential, it was a huge letdown.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has a running time of 106 minutes and is rated PG-13.



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