Well sort of. Actually one could call JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT a back story—or better yet, a Ryan prequel.
Paramount had first intended to release this action-spy thriller at Christmas but replaced it late in the game with THE WOLF OF WALL STREET.
In hindsight that was probably a wise decision.
In its new mid-January slot at the boxoffice the movie won’t get lost as it might have during the crowded holiday period. And who knows, reviewers may not be as critical of the picture as they would have been during yule time. After all, Chris Pine in the starring role has some pretty big shoes to fill.
The Tom Clancy franchise has been brought to the screen in previous incarnations by the likes of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck.
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, PATRIOT GAMES, THE SUM OF ALL FEARS and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER all delivered exceptional story, content and execution.
But hold on!
This reboot is NOT a Tom Clancy adaptation, but instead an original story featuring Clancy’s Jack Ryan character. Writing credits for SHADOW RECRUIT go to Adam Cozad and David Koepp.
The setting is 9/11 London where Ryan is a student at the School of Economics. Soon after though he’s in uniform fighting in Afghanistan where he’s nearly killed in a helicopter attack. But he’s nursed back to health by doc Keira Knightley who—you guessed it—soon adds other treatments to his well being.
Then there’s CIA recruiter Kevin Costner.
“You still want to serve your country…there is another way.”
And before you know it Ryan finds himself as a financial intelligence mole working at a major Wall Street institution. That’s where he uncovers a terrorist plot to collapse the American dollar and crash the economy.
The money manipulator is Russian billionaire Kenneth Branagh—who also directed the film.
Fast forward and adding some sub plots, Ryan becomes a full fledged CIA analyst working the case on both sides of the Atlantic.
Car chases, explosions, killings and a whole lot of electronic gear and gadgets are at play here as Ryan races against the clock to stop the plot.
He also has to save Keira Knightley who’s not only become his wife but is in mighty danger herself.
A paint by numbers suspense thriller?
To me it’s probably the weakest entry in the series. And Chris Pine, who previously filled William Shatner’s shoes as Captain Kirk, has a way to go to eventually make the the Ryan character his own.
Think of it as JACK RYAN—LITE.
A fellow critic at the screening probably put it best by describing SHADOW RECRUIT as being merely “adequate.”
It’s not great but it’s not bad either. So don’t set your expectations too high and you’ll have a (pretty) good hour and 45 minutes at the movies.
JACK RYAN; SHADOW RECRUIT scores a C+
(Reviewed at AMC 30, Olathe)
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