Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Here we have the odd case of the espionage worlds very own Benjamin Button spy. When first we met Tom Clancy’s Super Spy Jack Ryan in 1990’s The Hunt For Red October he was played by the young, good-looking Alec Baldwin. When Ryan returned in ‘92 in Patriot Games it was the (older) good-looking Harrison Ford who was playing the spy. In spite of the fact that Clancy felt Ford was too old for the role, Ford returned as Ryan in Clear And Present Danger (‘94). In 2004, Ford was finally replaced by Ben Affleck in the Sum of All Fears (‘02) which rebooted the series. Now 12 years later, it is the (once again, much) younger Pine who takes up the role in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit which once again reboots the spy series in a story that takes place prior to the original jack Ryan stories.
Here Ryan starts out as a sophomore in the London School of Economies’ in 2001. When he witnesses the attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11 he leaves school and enlists in the marines. An RPG that explodes in his helicopter over Afghanistan ends the active combat portion of his service to his country. While in rehab he meets Cathy Muller (Knightley) a rehab therapist on her way to be a doctor (and eventually Ryan’s wife). It is there that Ryan also meets and is recruited by Thomas Harper (Costner) a naval officer and a CIA operative. Harper convinces Ryan to return to school, join the Agency and then become a stockbroker to go to work for a large U.S. bank in order to root out terrorists investing in the U.S.
Eventually (10 years later) Ryan does locate a massive plot to not only to bankrupt the U.S. and crash the global economy but to launch a new terror attack on the country. The individual behind both attacks is a Moscow billionaire named Viktor Cherevin (Branagh) who has devised a nearly foolproof scheme to do both. So now, Ryan must stop him before Cherevin harms Muller, who has surprised Ryan in Moscow. While the story isn’t as glamorous as a Bond film, nor as frenetic as a Borne film, it still is exciting, and suspenseful enough to hold our attention all the way through to the end and to allow us to hope that Pine does well enough in this role so as to continue to perpetuate one of our personal favorite genres of films, for yet another go-round.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.