Review – Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit

This 2014 spy action thriller sees the latest attempt to reinvigorate the Jack Ryan franchise based on the character written by Tom Clancy over a series of novels.

This time, its Chris Pine (most well known for his turn as Captain Kirk in the JJ Abrams rebooted Star Trek films) that takes on the role of Ryan in this Kenneth Branagh directed offering.

Its actually not based on an original Tom Clancy story, with writers Adam Cozad and David Koepp developing a new story around the character.


In it we see the emergence of a young Ryan from a student watching 9-11 unfurl at his campus, through to signing up to the Marines, being injured and ultimately being recruited into the CIA by handler  Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) as an intelligence analyst.

Ryan’s analysis identifies a series of suspicious banking activities taking place in Russia which leads him into a deeper investigation, and undercover work that places him, and his girlfriend (played by Keira Knightley) in danger from the Russian Vikotor Chevron (played by Branagh himself) who may be involved in a planned economic attack on the US.

The film maintains a good pace with the likeable Pine throughout bringing his own take on a role that has now been played by 4 different actors (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and Pine himself). Its also another good role for Costner who (aside from his role in Man of Steel) had been without a box office hit for a number of years.


Its an enjoyable (albeit relatively formulaic) spy action thriller with each of the actors doing their part well and it wrapping up into a well packaged 100 minutes. It doesn’t do anything that leaves you desperate for a sequel (although I’m sure the character of Jack Ryan will be back in some guise in the future), but for what it is, its ok.

One thing it did leave me thinking was that at some point, Branagh would make a great Bond villain.

“Partnerships are delicate, Mr. Ryan. Sometimes they end violently.”


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