Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

The fifth film in a series of adaptations of the “Jack Ryan” series of characters by Tom Clancy hit theatres on January 17, 2014. Following in the footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, Chris Pine takes the character on an original mission.

Chris Pine stars as the titular Jack Ryan in the reboot of the series. In an era of origin stories, we have yet another. Ryan is brought forth into the modern post-9/11 era, after observing the attack on the Towers from his economics school in London.

Enlisting in the military and taking a mission that leads to a crippling injury, Ryan gets back on his feet and recruited to the CIA for counter-terrorism efforts. Sent to get his Ph.D. in economics, Ryan enters Wall Street as an analyst, watching for signs of money being sent to assist terrorism groups. He travels to Russia after discovering such accounts, he encounters Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), a ruthless Russian business seeking revenge against the U.S.

Cherevin continues the trend of sleek villainy seen in recent cinema. He prefers business undermining to hand on hand combat, and while the levels to which one man may utterly disrupt the world economy may be incredulous, it is no less commentative on how conniving and potentially destructive politics are to the world.

Ryan becomes operations after an attack on his life, and embroils his love interest Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), an ophthalmic surgeon he met during her residency, in a political race to save lives and the world economy,

While the espionage genre may start to seem old-hat, what with the big screen adventures of James Bond, a good spy thriller is a treat, no matter how simple and redundant it may seem.

Here, Branagh has crafted a shiny addition to the espionage genre. His Cherevin himself relays ice in his gaze and pure ruthlessness in his every action. His stony silences shame the mad giggling of criminals in other series, and when his story comes to an end, Branagh depicts the sheer emotion involved in learning the direction of you plan, for better or worse.

Chris Pine works perfectly as the novice agent Ryan. He panics, he takes action and he throws a hissy fit with the best of them. For a man carrying the current “Star Trek” franchise on his back, I hope it’s not too much to add the “Jack Ryan” films to his list. Pine is his best as a spy, from the badly received “This Means War,” which I enjoyed for its complete ridiculousness, to these films, where he can play the serious patriot to his best.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is a heart-pounding, edge of your seat adventure. Car chases, fistfights, sniper shooting and sleight of hand keep the action flowing seamlessly to the end.

The film landed an A- from me. While nothing particularly new to the genre, it also doesn’t try to be something its not. It revels in the knowledge that it is a spy movie, plays like a spy movie, and waits for us to see more from our spy on the screen.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is rated PG-13 for language and violence, and has a runtime of 105 minutes.

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