Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and now Chris Pine. All of these actors have played Jack Ryan. And it’s not tough to tell that Mr. Pine is the youngest of the men who have played the character thus far. What does that mean? Origin Story of course!
That’s right, in the great Hollywood tradition of countless franchises Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit — try saying that five times while peeling onions — is how we get to know Jack Ryan. He is a Marine who is something of a financial wizard, but he wants to see action, so he ships out to Afghanistan in 2003. And gets shot down while riding in a chopper with two other soldiers. That’s the end of active duty for him, and the beginning of a long stretch in hospital. Which is also where he meets Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley, not sounding anything like herself) and Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). He falls in love with the former and is recruited into the CIA by the latter.
Now this is a spy movie and I know I went into this hoping to see the new Jason Bourne. Instead we get Ethan Hunt-lite without the support of either a compelling script, nor the antagonism of a superior nemesis. Hell Lea Seydoux was more badass in the last Mission: Impossible movie than Kenneth Branagh is in this one.
Don’t get me wrong, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an efficient enough diversion, but there’s just something so ‘blah’ about the idea of an enemy of America who will bring about a financial meltdown that will bring on the ‘Second Great Depression’ that there is no way to be even mildly invested in the goings-on in this movie.
Add to that, the constant back-and-forthing with his fiancée–who won’t accept his marriage proposal but thinks nothing of flying all night to visit him in Moscow when he’s there on assignment. And when she finds out the truth about him, she demands to join in on the action. Sheesh! What is this, Mr. and Mrs. Smith now?
Final Analysis: It looks right, and sounds right, but there’s just something missing. Also, is it possible that Mr. Pine is now too James T. Kirk for us to believe him as anything else?
My Advice: This movie is totally valid as a home video experience. But shelling out the big bucks to see it on the big screen? I don’t know about that.