I’m a Tom Clancy wimp. There, I said it. I know that doesn’t sound very manly of me, but there you have it. Oh, I enjoy action thrillers as much as the next guy, and I have always wanted to like the films based on his novels, but there is something in my brain that just doesn’t put all the pieces together when I’m watching them. I find myself confused and disappointed. Not so with the reboot Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It has a whole new feel to it and at one point, Kevin Costner’s character tells Ryan to explain a key point of the story as if he was stupid. My kind of guy.
Although based on the characters created by Tom Clancy, this new film isn’t based on any of his novels. It’s a fresh restart and for me, a welcomed one. The story begins on 9/11 with Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), studying college in London. The film wisely moves swiftly forward ten years as to not drag on the origin story. We quickly learn that Jack is not only brilliant, but also very determined – I could explain why, but that would give away part of the plot. Jack is discovered by Harper (Kevin Costner) who recruits Jack to become a CIA analyst. He is promised a desk job, but quickly gets thrown into becoming operational. Jack gets sent to meet with Russian business leader, Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), on his home turf. Naturally, Jack has to keep his secret from his fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley) who becomes suspicious of his behavior. “Why is this guying going to Russia for a business trip and why can’t I come along?,” She wonders. Once in Russia, Jack thinks that everything will go smoothly, but apparently, he hasn’t read any of Clancy’s books to know better. He soon discovers that he doesn’t know who he can trust and panic sets in.
Pine takes on the role differently than what you would expect. Instead of the self-assured character that Harrison Ford played years before, Pine’s character is scared out of his mind Jack. He knows how to fight, but he fumbles here and there, making him a lot more relatable and likeable. Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, the producer of the film explains his character best: “He’s not someone who is a superhero. But he is someone who, when the times call for it, rises to the occasion.”
Branagh does double duty as actor and director and does both well. The film’s action comes in spurts and there are a few surprises, which makes you feel like you are right there with Jack all the way. The storyline is fairly simple and then things you don’t know, don’t matter. The film also gives Cathy more to do that in previous film which is a nice twist. The film has just the right amount of action, the violence is more or less off screen and good triumphs over bad in the end. What more could you want?