Russians as the baddies in spy films is not a new thing. The James Bond series had them all throughout the cold war. Before the Soviet Union grew laxer, they were the go to villains of choice. With newer entries in the spy film action series, they have been overlooked in favor of eccentric billionaires, and the United States CIA of all entities.
So with the rebooted Tom Clancy Jack Ryan film series, it’s interesting that a hero de evolved in age, (he’s played here by Chris Pine) comes to meet the wrong end of a de evolved choice for an adversary.
“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” does an admirable job of following in the footsteps of Daniel Craig’s efforts in “Casino Royale.” Taking a nod from Bond’s start at the beginning approach, Ryan is first seen as an economics major in a prestigious London college.
The events of September 11th, jolt the young Ryan into a bout of armed service for his country. Quickly rising to the rank of Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Ryan is injured pretty brutally by enemy fire. A stint in rehab allows him to meet up with his CIA boss to be played by Kevin Costner.
It is not long before the befuddled Ryan goes from desk job to field agent in a plot to bring American economic catastrophe. Of course the only one who can save us is the young green field agent, but forget that and go along for the ride.
Pine, Costner and company do a fine job in their roles, and director Kenneth Branagh keeps the action and intrigue rolling as a cracking pace. This is a fine movie in many respects.
The strange addition here is Kiera Knightly as Ryan’s love interest. It’s logical to insert her as his injury rehab therapist, but odd to have her find out what he later does for a living while becoming a part of it.
When finally pressed with his back against the wall, Ryan confesses to his wife to be “I’m in the CIA.”
Her reaction, “Thank God, I thought you were having an affair.” This is corny.
Overall, the film is a well-oiled machine and deserves high marks. Branagh is not only a great director, but also does a nice turn as a Russian throwback with a modern twist.