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Ten minutes into this it quickly became glaringly obvious what’s missing from Shadow Recruit and that’s Tom Clancy. His books have always been an intelligent comment on politics and terrorism be it the Cold War or the IRA and whilst this attempts to be clever it unfortunately falls into the same generic traps that we as film goers are used to.
There is good throughout and when the film really gets going in terms of story, there’s a considerable amount of tension, a set piece in Russia being a particular highlight but the first half hour or so feels messy as we are given Ryan’s “origin” story if you like and some bog standard relationship stuff that ends up dragging the film down.
Kenneth Branagh does a solid job of directing once again and puts in the best performance of the film as the lead villian, Kevin Costner too is excellent in his role and it puts a smile on my face to see him making a comeback in films like this.
On the other hand you have Chris Pine who is serviceable as a modern day Ryan but never really succeeds in outshining Harrison Ford or Alec Baldwin as far as I’m concerned and Keria Knightley is just downright wooden. When the film focuses on these two characters, it’s seriously very painful to watch.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit isn’t a completely terrible film but as far as films of this genre go it’s decidedly middle of the road. It lacks the gritty realism of Bourne and the pure absurdity of the set pieces in Mission Impossible but more importantly it lacks the intrigue and suspense usually associated with this character.
It is a perfectly adequate hour and a half at the cinema which will be sure to entertain you to some degree but is also entirely forgetful.