“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (PG-13, 105 min) stars Chris Pine as Jack Ryan, a young CIA analyst who uncovers a terrorist plot from Russia. Out of his element in the field, although his military background helps, things get complicated when his fiancée, Cathy (played by Kiera Knightley), shows up unexpectedly. With the aid of Thomas Harper (played by Kevin Costner), the man who recruited him, Jack Ryan rushes against time to take down Viktor Cherevin (played by Kenneth Branagh) and save the United States.
This is a fast paced action drama where the leading man has both brains and brawn. It is a new and interesting angle to make the hero a desk agent who’s never been on the field. However, Jack Ryan’s backstory is nicely (and chronologically) laid out to set the audience up to believe in his capabilities. He was a doctorate student who joined the military and ended up as a covert CIA analyst working on Wall Street, uncovering financial indicators of terrorist funding.
Pine does a great job of pulling off the brawn, the brains, and connecting the two. The believability of Jack Ryan as a capable but hesitant and uncertain (at first) CIA agent comes from Pine. His character grows in the film, overcoming personal issues to become the man he needed to be to save the country.
In “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” there is enough computer techie jargon to wash over our non-hacker heads, and the right amount of action to get the blood pumping. There is enough drama and humor between Jack and Cathy to make their romance sweet. And there is enough twist and surprises to make the plot interesting.
Pine and Knightley look good together and they act great together. Their characters have issues to work through, and we see a solid relationship with problems (as all relationships do) that need to be resolved. Knightley, beautiful of course, brings a subtle sexiness and strength to her character that, when tossed into a situation she could not have imagined, held her own. Branagh is as the Russian villain also has issues of his own that humanizes him and makes him more dimensional. Costner is the formidable CIA veteran, who brings both understanding and toughness through his character.
This movie is not too complicated and a little predictable. You know there's a happy ending coming, but you still need to pay attention to follow the twists and turns. It’s not the great big action movie, but it’s not a bore. If you want an action film with a little bit of humor, a little bit of head game, and a lot of Chris Pine, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is the movie for you.