Struggling with the way you publicly present yourself to the world, and debating over how much you should reveal about your true identity, is a continuous fight people face as they enter new and challenging phases in their lives. This is a major motivating conflict for the title character in the new action thriller, ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,’ which was directed by ‘Thor’ helmer Kenneth Branagh, and is set to open in Long Island theaters on Friday. The protagonist continuously contends with how much of his true identity he should reveal to those closest to him about his undercover position in the CIA in the new thriller. But equally as important is the fact that the beloved Jack Ryan character, who has appeared in many of the novels written by Tom Clancy, is differentiating himself from the previous film adaptations he appeared in, with the arrival of a new portrayer, Chris Pine.
‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ follows the origins of the title character (Pine), who puts his financial studies at the London School of Economics on hold after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The American is inspired to sign up to become a Marine, and is a respected soldier until a helicopter he’s riding in is shot down in Afghanistan. While spending months in military rehab during his recovery, he forms a connection with his doctor, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), who’s determined to help him, particularly since she notes she’s several physical therapy credits short of graduation.
While finishing rehab, Jack is approached by William Harper (Kevin Costner), a CIA agent who recruits the former solider to join the government agency. Ten years later, after finishing his Ph.D., Jack begins working as an undercover analyst on Wall Street. While excellent at his new job, Jack begins to feel the pressure of keeping his true occupation secret from Cathy, with whom he’s developed a romantic relationship. Jack’s unease is heightened when he unexpectedly becomes a field agent, after uncovering hidden files that hint a Russian oligarch, Viktor Cherevin (Branagh), is posed to launch shattering terrorist and financial attacks on the United States. Since Jack holds the most knowledge on the case, William sends the emotionally unprepared analyst to Moscow, where he’s works to expose the details of the terrorist plot before Viktor and his colleagues can topple the American economy.
With his prior experience directing action thrillers, Branagh created a reality-driven, emotional look into the high-pressure, intense workings of the CIA in ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.’ The filmmaker emotionally played on the powerful motivations that drive strong-minded undercover agents like Jack and William with the powerful script for the thriller, which was penned by Adam Cozad and David Koepp. The two scribes created a gripping, powerful and overwhelmingly relatable protagonist in Jack.
While most viewers won’t be able to understand his life as an undercover agent, let alone a Wall Street financial analyst, they will be able to respect his devotion to saving not only the people he loves, notably Cathy, but also protecting the innocent across his country. The high-tension story Cozad and Koepp created powerfully emphasizes current societal dangers, including terrorism, societies falling into financial ruins and the linked potential to unleash an unprecedented worldwide chaos, that men like Jack continuously work to stop.
Cozad and Koepp created Jack as the perfect leader of CIA agents determined to do whatever it takes to stop unwarranted terrorist and economic attacks on America. Pine’s effortless portrayal of a determined agent who’s willing to risk himself to help aid and protect his country was aided by the writers’ smart decision to start the thriller with glimpses into his background. The actor developed the protagonist’s strong sense of morals, both in his personal relationships and in his career, as he first-handily witnesses life-changing and horrifying global events, particularly as a Marine.
Showcasing Jack’s origins also helped emphasize the vulnerability of the character, particularly when he enters unfamiliar territory. While he excels at processing and analyzing data in the office, his unease at working in the field and confronting Viktor proves that he’s truly driven by his conscious and concern for protecting the innocent, and doesn’t want the glory of single-handily bringing the oligarch and his criminal enterprise down.
Building on Jack’s relatable internal struggles on how to live an honest, honorable life with Cathy while successfully and courageously overcoming his fears to help protect the livelihood of America was the incredible production design from Andrew Laws. Since the thriller follows Jack and his exhilarating pursuits as he travels the world, from London to New York to Moscow, Laws continuously created recognizable environments that emphasized the familiarity of Jack’s life in his relationship with Cathy and career. But the locations also showcase the perplexity of his ever-growing involvement with stopping Russia from harming the U.S.
With Jacks and Cathy’s apartment, for example, Laws subtly highlighted the strain in their relationship, as the CIA agent contends with not being able to reveal his true occupation. Their belongings are kept separated from each other, as though the two are still processing the idea of truly committing to each other in marriage.
‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ exhilaratingly revamps Clancy’s beloved spy, both from the previous film adaptations that feature the agent, as well as other spy movies. Jack is a relatable protagonist who’s continuously being pushed to find the courage and devotion needed to properly serve his country, as he values the need to protect the innocent, but feels conflicted over the violent ways his superiors expect him to complete his job. Pine naturally played on Jack’s uncertainty, fear and disbelief in his first field mission as he finally realizes the hazards of his job, but learns to embrace his sworn oath to protect his country. Paired with the subtle, but ever telling production design created by Laws, the Branagh-helmed reboot of the Jack Ryan character is a visually creative, action-packed and emotionally relatable and exciting thriller.