Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan has always been the anti-Bond, a CIA agent who balances a normal family life with adventures that carry a torn-from-the-headlines aroma.
No luscious babes. No super villain with a high-tech lair disguised as a volcano.
Actually, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” might have benefitted from a super villain or a luscious babe or two. This latest attempt to reboot the franchise (previous
Jack Ryans include Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and, most notably, Harrison Ford) is a competent but fairly sedate affair. Whether it will jump-start the series is up to the ticket buyers. I’m not terribly hopeful.
Chris Pine, fresh from his other gig as a young James T. Kirk in the “Star Trek” universe, is our new Jack Ryan. We meet him studying economics in London in 2001. After 9-11 he enlists in the Marines, is shot down in Afghanistan, paralyzed with a spinal injury, and undergoes a long rehab which not only gets him back on his feet but into the bed of his med-student therapist, Cathy (Keira Knightley).
This all happens in the first 10 minutes.
While still recuperating at Walter Reed he’s recruited by CIA spookmaster Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), who gets Jack a job in a big Wall Street firm from which he can covertly look for funding channels for terrorist groups. If he were married to Cathy, Jack could tell her of his real job, but since they’re only living together, he can’t. This puts a strain on their relationship.
Jack’s study of international financing raises alarms of a plot from within Russia to destroy the U.S. economy with a combined terrorist attack and world-wide sell-off of American securities that would make the dollar worthless.
So Jack is off to Moscow to confront one of those newly-minted Russian billionaires, Viktor Cherevin (a thin-lipped Kenneth Branagh), who carries an old Cold War grudge against the Yanks and wants to elevate Mother Russia to her rightful place at the top of the international food chain.
Suddenly our man finds himself up to his neck in assassination attempts, computer hacking, shootouts, and wild car chases.
“You sold this as an office job,” he complains to Harper.
“Shadow Recruit” has been capably directed by Branagh, who manages to wring a fair amount of suspense from a fairly desultory screenplay by Adam Cozad and David Koepp.
But I’m not sure that Pine has the charisma to keep this effort afloat. We need a Jack Ryan who seizes the screen; this one only glides around the edges.