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Tom Clancy action hero Jack Ryan is back

Jack Ryan franchise is back with a prequel
Jack Ryan franchise is back with a prequel
Paramount Pictures

There is a new Jack Ryan in the Tom Clancy franchise hitting theatres on Staten island this weekend. The new film directed by Kenneth Branagh enitled “Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit” offers a new approach to the film that formerly starred Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck in the starring role. One might say that actor Chris Pine has big action movie shoes to fill.

“Mr. Branagh — who also directed — plays Viktor Cherevin, one of those fantastically wealthy Russian power mongers who operate surrounded by bulging musclemen while plotting from inside dark, glossy lairs suggestive of designer mausoleums,” added The New York Times I its review. For more on this review (January 17) visit

“Death becomes Cherevin, as it does action movies like this one, which inevitably offer up their thrills with plenty of lethal mayhem. Such is the case with “Shadow Recruit,” which opens with Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) watching the events of Sept. 11 unfold on television at the London School of Economics, where he’s studying,” adds The Times. “Sometime later, he is aboard a helicopter flying over Afghanistan when there’s a big explosion and, and, and — well, there’s more, some of it entertaining, much of it formulaic and little of it surprising. Jaws clench, tempers explode, credits roll.”

“Say what you will about Vladimir V. Putin, but he seems to have been very, very good for screen villainy. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, Soviet-style skulduggery has remained a durable narrative cliché in recent movies that feature Russian bad guys doing their dastardly worst at home or abroad, from “Iron Man 2” to “Jack Reacher,” “Safe,” “A Good Day to Die Hard.” In “Kick-Ass 2,” adds The Times.

Why are The Soviets portrayed as bad guys again?

It seems K.G.B. agents make good villains, and Branagh could convincingly play a Russian bad guy more obviously than a member of Al-Quaeda. Adds The Times of "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit": It (Jack Ryan) is a “competently made, moderately diverting variation on a genre standard. It’s also the fifth movie hinged on Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy’s most famous creation and the hero of many of his books,” according to The Times. “And so, like “The Amazing Spider-Man,” the last installment in that newly resuscitated franchise, “Shadow Recruit” takes its title character back to his beginnings, before he assumed his superhero powers. In Ryan’s case, those powers are synonymous with those of the United States, for which he serves first with the military and then the C.I.A. for liberty and justice for all or, really, just America,” added The Times.” He’s tapped for spook service by an older agent in a naval officer’s uniform, Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). Harper is one of those avuncular tutor figures played by actors of a certain age and industry stature (Morgan Freeman once had a monopoly on such roles), but here the character does double duty in that it allows Mr. Costner ceremonially to pass the action-hero torch to Mr. Pine.”

Of Chris Pine in the title role, The Times is very generous in its support: “Much like Matt Damon, Mr. Pine is a naturally appealing screen presence who conveys the kind of old-fashioned, homespun decency that doesn’t make you feel as if you’re being gamed. He also seems smarter than his boyishly pretty looks might suggest, a quality that works nicely for roles involving righteous dissembling.”

Written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp, the movie “Jack Ryan is true and decent and, by extension, so, too, is the agency and the country for which he runs, suffers and kills,” adds The Times. Adds The Los Angeles Times: “As directed by Kenneth Branagh, who costars along with fellow Brit Keira Knightley, this "Jack Ryan" has the additional burden of being the fifth film celebrating the exploits of the wily operative previously played by Alec Baldwin ("The Hunt for Red October"), Harrison Ford ("Patriot Games," "Clear and Present Danger") and Ben Affleck ("The Sum of All Fears").” For More on this review (January 17) visit

“Compared to those films, as well as the modern gold standard of the genre as represented by the "Bourne" epics, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" comes off as a reasonable facsimile, serviceable but not compelling, something that could pass for the real thing if you're not looking too hard,” adds The Times.

“Because this is a combination reboot/origins story, as well as the first Ryan story not based directly on one of Tom Clancy's bestselling novels, screenwriters Adam Cozad and David Koepp have taken it upon themselves to fashion an elaborate back story for Ryan. "Shadow Recruit," according to The Los Angeles Times.

“Though Pine is acceptable in this latest rebooting, what Cmdr. Harper calls the "Boy Scout on a field trip look" he falls prey to emphasizes the absence of the kind of gravitas that Costner himself employs, and that is a chink in the younger actor's acting armor,” according to the review.

“Branagh does an excellent job as the dour, fanatical Cherevin, a man with more secrets than St. Basil's Cathedral has onion domes, and his machinations are so threatening to American interests that the formerly desk-bound Ryan is forced to go operational in a big way,’ according to The Los Angeles Times. “Though the considerable action in "Shadow Warrior's" second half is briskly done, there is no shaking the feeling that Branagh and his cast are a kind of an espionage film B team, capable of mild diversion but nothing more.”

However as an action film with an intellect that features a first rate cast, including Kevin Cistner in a leading role and Kenneth Branagh using his considerable acting chops, as wella s the endearing British sweetheart Keira Knightley this is one action film not to be missed. Staten Island action film lovers, this film has an underlying plot and first rate cast.

Staten Island Showtimes
Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit is now playing at Atrium Stadium Cinemas at 680 Arthur Kill Road, t 11:45 a.m‎ ., ‎2:00‎ p.m., ‎4:15‎ p.m., ‎6:30‎ p.m., ‎8:45‎ p.m., and ‎11:00 p.m‎. It is also playing at UA Hylan Plaza 5 at 107 Mill Road at 12:00‎ p.m., ‎2:30‎ p.m., ‎5:00‎ ‎p.m., 7:30‎ p.m., and ‎10:00 p.m‎. Additionally you can catch it at UA All Staten Island Stadium 16 Theatre at 2474 Forest Avenue, Staten Island at 11:40 a.m.,‎ 12:40‎ p.m., ‎2:30‎ p.m., ‎3:30‎ p.m., ‎5:10‎ p.m., ‎6:10‎ p.m. and 7:50 p.m.