Monday, 21 July 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Lowdown: Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan figure is reinvented as a tech spy.
There was a time Tom Clancy was deemed my favourite author. I grew up since, but I still keep a warm place by the fire for his main character, Jack Ryan, and its escapades. Some of Jack Ryan's adventures have been put well on the big screen, too: The Hunt for Red October and Patriot Games offer fine examples, while Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears are lesser movies.
Now it seems as if a movie exec decided they ran out of ideas and a revival of the Jack Ryan character is due, hence Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. However, the character that was once a navy expert and grew to become the USA President has been severely rebooted: as we meet Jack Ryan (Chris Pine in yet another set of big shoes to fill), he's an American studying in the UK and deeply affected by the newscast of the Twin Towers under attack. He joins the American army as the patriot that he is, gets himself severely injured while saving another's life at Afghanistan, goes through long rehabilitation, gets himself recruited to the CIA as another reward for his patriotism by none other than Kevin Costner, and starts working as a very smart Wall Street guy who tips the CIA whenever some financial dodgy-ness is afoot (given we're talking Wall Street standards, this doesn't amount to much).
To keep the tension running throughout the movie, Ryan hides the identity of his true employer from the doctor who helped his rehabilitation and now happens to be his girlfriend (Keira Knightley). And if it all seems a bit too far stretched then Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit stretches it even further when our Ryan identifies something dodgy in the financial dealings of a Russian billionaire (Kenneth Branagh, who - believe it or not - also directed this movie). That's because he, Ryan, is the one the CIA sends to Putinland in order straighten things up.
Rest assured, Ryan will get in too deep. But it will be his wit, his prowess and an ex American soldier, his friends, and - naturally - him being a good all American kid that will save the day. As well as save the world from an evil Russian plot. Because, reboot or not, Jack Ryan could not get too far from the Clancy's Cold War heritage, can he?
As you might tell by my tone, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was not exactly a favourite of mine. There were too many leaps of faith thrown in, like Ryan automatically assuming that given the major financial conspiracy at hand there also has to be a major terrorism attack. Because, hey, he saw September 11 in the news! Predictable, shallow and suffering from an abundance of single dimension characters, I found it to be a top contender for Forgettable Film of the Year. I also failed to see what was gained by rebooting the Ryan character that could not be gained from inventing a brand new one; it is as if the movie knew that without the weight of Clancy on its side, it really has nothing to offer but a cast of three heavyweights + Pine wasting their time and talent.
By the casting of a young crew (what the hell is Knightley doing there?) one can only assume we are to withstand an onslaught of Jack Ryan sequels. Let us hope we can offer better resistance to this attack then what Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit had to offer.
Overall: The new Jack Ryan tries to be some sort of a puritan American's James Bond but achieves immediate forgetfulness. 2.5 out of 5 crabs for the light minded.

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