Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Plot: This the prequel where future rogue spy Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) gets recruited into the CIA. It starts when Jack is recovering from a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, where he meets cute med student Cathy (Keira Knightley), and gets recruited into the CIA by shadowy guy Tom (Kevin Costner.) Soon he is snooping on Wall Street banks and their international trading. He finds some fishy Russian trades and suddenly he and Cathy are in Moscow meeting Viktor (Kenneth Branagh), a Putin-like Russian businessman and FSB officer. They uncover a Russian plan to collapse the US economy with a fake terrorist attack timed with selling lots of US bonds. With wild chase scenes and colorful computer hacking, the movie reaches its predictable end.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Shadow Recruit kept moving, and was fun to watch. We learn that Jack Ryan is just as shallow when he was young as he is in later Clancy movies. The shallow characters means that Shadow Recruit is nothing special, even though the fast-moving plot keeps the action humming along.

Happily the plot is easier to understand than other Clancy stories-- probably because this script was not based on a book.

 The dialog is wooden and the characters have a leaden sense of duty that overwhelms whatever emotion they might be feeling. The best dialog by far is the dinner scene with Cathy and Victor -- here they talk about Russian literature, hope and disappointment in triple entendre about flirting, the secret mission, and literature.

Chris Pine does a nice job with the stilted tough-guy style acting. He seems likable because of his boyish looks and facial acting.

Visually, we see cool architecture, especially the glassy Russian office building set. The scenes of passing secrets from one agent to the other on the street are cool because they are so well choreographed. The soundtrack by Patrick Doyle is nothing special with no songs that I wanted to download.

The movie has no attempt at a message, but I was happy to see that Cathy, Keira Knightly's character, didn't date her patent. Nice to see a little professional ethics.

Cast: Chris Pine, Keira Knightly, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh; based on the characters of Tom Clancy, but the story was not based on a book

Rating: 2.5 stars: entertaining, but nothing special to distinguish it from similar spy thrillers.

More: Nice to see a scene set in Dearborn. The businesses mentioned have new names. The Dearborn East Assembly plant is the Ford River Rouge truck plant, and Michigan Bell, has been calling itself AT&T since 2005.