It is a hot and heavy week in the realm of home entertainment and there are a lot of films clamoring for your entertainment dollar, including the reboot of a multi-million dollar franchise. "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" makes enough subtle adjustments to at least be somewhat interesting, but it's just a little sloppy at times to be able to hold up to some of the more iconic and original adventures of this character
Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) appears to be just another New York executive to his friends and loved ones, but his enlistment into the CIA secretly goes back years. He was brought in as a brainy Ph.D. who crunches global data; but when Ryan ferrets out a meticulously planned scheme to collapse the U.S. economy and spark global chaos, he becomes the only man with the skills to stop it. Now, he’s gone fully operational, thrust into a world of mounting suspicion, deception and deadly force. Caught between his tight-lipped handler Harper (Kevin Costner), his in-the-dark fiancée Cathy (Keira Knightley) and a brilliant Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh), Jack must confront a new reality where no one can seem to be trusted, yet the fate of millions rests on his finding the truth. With the urgency of a lit fuse, he’s in a race to stay one step ahead of everyone around him.
Steering away from the novels of Tom Clancy in order to reboot the series, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is the kind of film that is just as maddening as it actually is enjoyable.
Directed by co-star Kenneth Branagh and working from a script by Adam Cozad and David Koepp, this works reasonably well as a reboot as we explore the origins of the character and it plays reasonable well, however there are moments of dialogue that just fall flat and the pacing of it all is more than a little uneven. Branagh may have put a little too much on his plate because while he is more than adapt and directing some of the action sequences, so many elements of the film felt rehashed and messy as well coming off at time like a poor excuse for a James Bond rip-off. It looked good enough but there was too much of a disconnect from beginning to end, as moments would work, then slowly go off the rails and then work again as the material while showing some promise just didn't give enough support to everyone involved.
Chris Pine is a more then adequate choice to step into the role of Jack Ryan as he successfully sheds the Capt Kirk swagger and makes his Ryan a highly intelligent yet always slightly out of his depth agent who uses his military training just as much as his wits. In what could be considered a reboot of his own, Kevin Costner is more than solid as Ryan's CIA handler Harper as he recaptures some of his movie star charm and swagger that we haven't seen the 80's and 90's. Sadly Kenneth Branagh as the evil industrialist Viktor Cherevin never quite knew when to turn on the scenery chewing villain he was supposed to be playing and when not to while the less said about Keira Knightley who just had terrible chemistry with Pine, the better.
Picture and sound quality on the BD are top notch and the special features include deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary from director Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, 4 behind the scenes featurettes and a feature length commentary track from Branagh and di Bonaventura.
At the end of the day, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is a passable film that survives thanks to some solid action sequences and is more than a watch in the comfort of your own home.
3 out of 5 stars.
"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and VOD from all major providers.