Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

WRITTEN BY: Adam Cozad, David Koepp
DIRECTED BY: Kenneth Branagh
STARRING: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner
RATING: 2 stars

There are so many failures in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit that I hardly know where to begin. The plot is far-fetched, the dialogue is embarrassing and I am sick of Russians always being the bad guys in Hollywood films – the stereotype is so old. Also, I've been to Russia and there is absolutely no way anyone can get a Russian visa in a matter of hours. As an action film, audiences have become accustomed to letting silly aspects slide because the point of most action films is having fast cars, beautiful women, explosions and daredevil stunts. But, that is not actually what the slightly geeky character of Jack Ryan is supposed to be about. I think a lot of people who read Tom Clancy's books will be disappointed with this reboot.

Jack Ryan has previously been played by Alec Baldwin, twice by Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. In the fifth instalment, Chris Pine takes the reins, but the film is not actually adapted from any of Clancy's novels. In this film, we first meet Jack as a student doing his PhD. But he soon drops out to join the US defence forces after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. When he is injured at war, he requires a long rehabilitation process, where he meets a doctor named Cathy (Keira Knightley). It is there that he is also approached by the CIA's William Harper (Kevin Costner) to work as an analyst on Wall Street. Years later, Jack uncovers a financial terrorism threat that could collapse the US economy. So, he becomes a field agent and travels to Russia where he confronts businessman Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh).

Pine is absolutely fine for the role of Jack Ryan. He has the charm, looks and acting ability to pull it off. Unfortunately, he was given a terrible script to work with. His chemistry with Knightley is good, but I still think she is one of the worst actresses in Hollywood. For example, in a scene when her character should have felt some nervousness having dinner with Viktor, Knightley appeared totally calm as if she were a CIA operative. Branagh does his best directing and acting in this film, but Viktor becomes a caricature bad guy. Costner is solid, although he does not do enough in the film.

Unfortunately, the best thing about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was Pine's blue eyes and the beautiful shots of Moscow's iconic architecture.