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February 14, 2018

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) --- "Being The Girlfriend Of A Secret Agent Is Hard But At Least You Get To Meet Interesting People."

Plot Summary
To his friends and loved ones, young Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) appears to be an ordinary executive; however, he has secretly worked for the CIA for years. Ryan was originally brought in to crunch global data, but when he uncovers a carefully planned scheme to crash the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it. Now a full operative, Ryan finds himself caught between his secretive handler, his clueless fiancĂ©e and a brilliant Russian leader. (1) 

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
      Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, 1992) has played him as well as Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October, 1990) and most recently Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears, 2002). In this latest reboot of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan book series Chris Pine (Star Trek) has the honor of playing the heroic intelligence analyst Jack Ryan in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014). This film offers a different Ryan from what we are used to and while is set several years post-9/11, it has that familiar Cold War feel to it that makes it a very exciting action-thriller.
     Director Kenneth Branagh (Murder on the Orient Express) is known for his Shakespearian-esq films but recently he’s started to expand his directorial work first with Thor (2011) and now with this film. Branagh relishes the opportunity to stage a Bond-esq spy thriller and once again he is responsible for starting a new franchise series. He admirably and carefully balances character dynamics with action sequences and his storytelling is energetic. Writers Adam Cozard (Legend of Tarzan) and David Koepp (Mission Impossible) take full advantage of our present-day geopolitical society by providing details to Ryan’s life before his employment with the CIA. The camera work during the action scenes is great and the infiltration scenes were astutely edited with an overabundance of tension. Most of the action is builds for the second half of the film with the real moment of tension involving a nail-biting office break-in. Whereas the final half of the film unfolds quickly and a bit predictable with a major adrenaline rush.
      The acting and the interaction between characters was very good. Chris Pine is reasonably convincing as the rookie who is forced to rely on his instincts after being thrust into the field for the first time. Pine plays a pretty good spy, his action sequences were gritty and exciting, and his chemistry with Keira Knightley (Everest) was great. Branagh gives the Ryan a moral center with an added love interest, Cathy (Keira Knightley - Everest) who plays a surprisingly significant part in the film. It was great to see Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures) as Harper the mentor/supervisor for Ryan however, it’s too bad that his character was not better utilized. Kenneth Branagh portrays a strong antagonist with his subtle and sinister portrayal of Viktor Cherevin, a Russian businessman with terrorism and economic terror on his mind. Branagh transforms into his role that you don’t even recognize him, with no trace of a British accent and that makes his role that much more convincing.

     Overall, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) is not as good as the Mission Impossible franchise but it was a nicely done espionage thriller that pays homage to classic elements. The story was good, the camera work is great, and the action is exciting. The performances were great with some solid acting from Pine, Knightley, Costner, and Branagh. I hope that they come out with another addition to the series but I would not be surprised if that never happened considering the mid to low ratings earned.

- Jack Ryan

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  7.1 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  7.1 of 10 stars

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Movies Similar 
The Bourne Series: Identity (2002)
The Bourne Series: Supremacy (2004)
The Bourne Series: Ultimatum (2007)
The Bourne Series: Jason Bourne (2016)
007: Casino Royale (2006)
007: Quantum of Solace (2008)
007: Skyfall (2012)
Gangster Squad (2013)
Jack Reacher (2012)
Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (2016)
Killers (2010)
Live by Night (2016)
Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015)
Man on a Ledge (2012)
Mission Impossible  (1996)
Mission Impossible II (2000)
Mission Impossible III (2006)
Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)
Mission Impossible - Rogue Nation (2015) 

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