Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

We maybe don’t need Kenneth Branagh to direct Jake Ryan, but Branagh has definitely selfishly stolen the show like a good villain. The late author of Cold War military espionage-Tom Clancy’s most famous character Jack Ryan is back with a new face, Chris Pine, for the new generation. No worries if you’ve missed any of those films back in the 90s and 2002, Shadow Recruit is not an adaption of Tom Clancy’s book, but a movie based on his Jack Ryan series. It is not a new episode of the series, but a “begin” or a “rise” like Star Wars, Batman or Star Trek. A chapter where this all begins.


Who would be a better cast than Chris Pine as the new Jack Ryan? The clean shaved, dark chatain hair, electric blue eyes Captain Luc as the charming, ambitious, intellectual and patriot CIA agent character, requested to do fast runs, high jumps and fist fights like a good old warrior. Pine is the American classic model type of his generation, who can deliver exactly all that shadeless classic character in this modern world where the good and evil are no longer black or white as in the good old times. And who would be a better cast than Kevin Costner (Who played Jack Ryan in 1992, 1994) as Thomas Harper,  the character who recruited Jack Ryan here.


Even though, Pine’s Jack Ryan gives some really good fights and a couple of impressive jumps, car chases and rescue action which makes the audience go out of breath and exhaust the eyes, it all seems too realistic compared with today’s action movie market, which has already been over choreographed by video games and Asian cinematographic fights. That said, if you are into graphic gaming kind of excitements and computer generated action movies… Shadow Recruit will hardly satisfy your adrenaline.


The most uncomfortable part of Shadow Recruit is actually the blurry quality of the image which  lacks of contrast and colorization most of the time. Which makes me wonder if a month of post-production work might be lacking, since re-mastering 35mm to digital IMAX technology should not be a problem nowadays.


However, we all know what Branagh is good at, and we can see many Shakespearian moments when Branagh builds his own villain character Viktor Cherevin. And Branagh’s incredible talent in accent imitation is very impressive, even if I can’t tell how accurate is his Russian accent, but I’m very glad that no one needs sub-titles when he speaks Russian English.


Over all, the ending impact of the movie is worth the ticket and there is no doubt that Shadow Recruit is very well directed, but unfortunately not in a classic Branagh way. There is too much material attempted to squeeze into this 105 min. movie, which forced to tighten up the narration and sometimes drop the transitions, and we can barely see how Jack Ryan’s girlfriend, Cathy, played by Keira Knightly, turns so collaborative.

– Shumaï Chou