"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" drags the tiresome plot of the U.S. versus the Russians – despite the fall of the Soviet Union – and leaves the audience anything but thrilled.
This studio re-boot of the Jack Ryan character doesn't quite reach the goal of being an action spy thriller. The gist of the movie is that Ryan is an ex-Marine made CIA economic analyst who unveils – or stumbles upon – a scheme by Russian terrorists to force America to enter a second Great Depression.
Chris Pine teams up with Keira Knightley and aging Kevin Costner in this cookie-cutter action-thriller flick.
Ryan is a picturesque American boy scout with little depth. While studying economics in London he witnesses the terrible attacks on 9/11, and he immediately hears the Liberty Bell's tolls of duty and joins the Marines.
He and his two brothers-in-arms discuss football rivalries in the chopper – to further incite the American audience – just before the chopper is shot down.
He demonstrates his proclivity for patriotic heroism when he saves the crew with a broken back. Pine plays this two-dimensional character to the best of his ability, but it isn't quite his fault. Mostly, the fault lies with the weak direction and pithy script by Adam Cozad and David Koepp.
The on-screen relationship between Jack Ryan and girlfriend, Cathy Muller (Knightley), couldn't be more artificial. They share no chemistry, and their conversations seem to always nod at the first time they met, which was a desperate attempt to be kismet.
Knightley does exude a bit of shine when she and Kenneth Branagh, the film's antagonist, share the screen, but she was a complete miscast.
Another relationship miss was between Ryan and his mentor, Commander Harper (Kevin Costner). However, there wasn't much of a mentorship in their relationship.
Harper discovers Ryan, but Harper doesn't function in the story beyond that. Ryan quickly usurps the helm of the operation, and Harper seems to be trailing as he tries to keep up with Ryan's intuition.
All in all, the character relationships seemed so plastic and tiresome.
Branagh plays Viktor Cherevin, an incredibly wealthy Ruskie that is bent on bathing in the blood of America. Russians again? This movie falls in line with other forgettable action/thrillers that pin the villainy on the Russians.
There is a nudge – more of a shove – into the post-9/11 sentiments that goes absolutely noticed and is utterly eye-roll worthy. At least Branagh did seem to have fun playing the psychopathic villain. He played the character with a sneering subtlety, despite the characters not-so-subtle plan for America's utter destruction.
The director, also Branagh, squeezes in several long, wide shots of London, Manhattan and Moscow that only communicates, "You're watching a blockbuster action."
The movie seems to only aspire to be mentioned with the likes of Paul Greengrass' "The Bourne Supremacy." The quick shots and restless camera movements try to instill suspense into the viewer, but the plot of the film is so derivative.
It is true that one could go into this movie just seeking a fun time, but "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" didn't provide such thrills.
The studio re-boot certainly doesn't stand out in the six-to-eight week lull of movies coming out after the Academy nominees have been chosen.