‘Jack Ryan’ fails without Clancy


Perhaps one of the very few reassurances about “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” is that the creator of the beloved CIA spy, Tom Clancy, is not alive to witness the atrocious, unnecessary reboot. 

Though Clancy never adhered to a set timeline, age or casting of the character and his missions, the execution of the previous four film adaptations of the author’s books were flawless. 

“Shadow Recruit,” however, is not an adaptation of a book, but rather an attempted homage and reboot of the character, which is its biggest downfall. 

Especially considering that there was already a successful reboot of Ryan in the 2002 film, “Sum of all Fears.” 

Though then-lead Ben Affleck could have been replaced in future films, following Clancy’s novels is what the film series needed. With 13 more novels to choose from in the Jack Ryan series, if another reboot of the character is what the developers wanted, they had plenty of options. 

As a spy-thriller on its own, without ties to Clancy’s world, the film could have probably been more successful.  Ryan was not needed, and it failed to live up to Clancy’s fans’ expectations.

Filled with plot holes, atrocious dialogue and the unbearable choice to tie Clancy into the film, the saving grace in the 106-minute snoozefest is the outstanding acting ability of the main characters.

Chris Pine (“Star Trek”), with his icy blue eyes and rugged exterior, has found his calling portraying a brooding spy. If this was a movie by any other name, he displayed that he has the ability to run an entire spy franchise as Matt Damon did as Jason Bourne.  

Pine begins in his role as Ryan as a college student in London, inspired to join the Marines after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

On his way to fight in Afghanistan, an enemy missile strikes Ryan’s helicopter and he is rushed to emergency care, where the audience is told through doctor conversation that he may not be able to walk again.

While in recovery, he meets Cathy Muller, played by Kiera Knightley (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), who begins the movie as his physical therapist but later becomes his
fiancée. In a rare performance with an American accent, London-born Knightley shines without her shrill British one.

Toward the end of his recovery, Ryan is recruited by Thomas Harper, played by Kevin Costner (“Man of Steel”), as a financial analyst for the CIA where he will monitor potential financial terrorist threats.

Harper orders him to return to college and earn his doctorate in economics.

Ten years later, Ryan is found working on Wall Street, where he discovers billions of dollars in secret Russian assets that could make or break the American economy.

Using his Wall Street position as his CIA cover, Ryan heads to Moscow to investigate and audit the accounts owned by Viktor Cheverin, played by director Kenneth Branagh (“My Week With Marilyn”), a Soviet veteran with plans of financial retaliation against the U.S. 

Though the screenplay needed a lot of work, Branagh’s directorial vision helped move the story along. He was able to modernly deliver Moscow, as well as breathe life into the predictable and dull fighting and chase scenes. However, he was unable to save the tedious and disappointing ending.

 If this was any other spy-thriller with any other name it would have had some potential, but with the audacity to try to sneak it’s way into Clancy’s success, it is a tragedy that can be avoided until it is available on Netflix. 

Grade: D