jack ryan: shadow recruit

‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’: This is One Thrilling Unexpected Adventure!

June 19, 2014 13 Comments

A best-selling author’s name attached to a big budget box office adaptation doesn’t promise a smash hit. On the New York Times bestseller list, the stories about Tom Clancy’s popular character were well received. At the box office, this film reboot, not so much. Fortunately, the latter nearly always guarantees, it will be a hit at my house.  

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) Film Review

Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is hailed a hero. His post 9/11 enlistment in the Marines ends when he pulls two fellow Marines out of a downed, burning helicopter and suffers serious injuries as a result. There’s a question of the likelihood of him ever being able to properly walk again, but in his therapy and recovery at Walter Reed and even trhough a lingering back injury, he does recover.

In the aftermath, he’s approached by Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), a Navy man whose career relies on secrets. There solely for the purpose of recruiting Jack, ten years later, Jack finishes his education, is engaged to the woman (Keira Knightley) he loves, and is working as an analyst for the CIA where he monitors the possibility of terrorist attacks. 

When he notices account irregularities in a Russian entity, he’s sent to Moscow to uncover the truth behind the anomalies, only to realize that the enemy (Kenneth Branagh) they’re up against already anticipates their opening move.

I’m not entirely sure why so many consider this a snooze fest; at least this is the standard of most reviews I see. Sure, it uses typical twists and turns, and has a typecast (?) Chris Pine, however, I really like all of this… normalness. To begin, the cast is a great mix of talent and I enjoy meeting a new kick butt kind of hero, only instead of being a Jason Bourne operator, this guy is more “human” in that he does have limitations – and he isn’t “operational.”

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jack ryan: shadow recruit

There’s a kind of quality to this character (something I cannot put my finger on) that we relate to. This is to say nothing of the interactions (even when they were fighting) between Jack and Cathy, which are darling. There’s a good sense of patriotism involved also, which is a surefire way to pull me into the script and keep me entwined in its excitement and the push-and-pull of its good vs. bad plot line. 

Combining with that are some fabulous action sequences, which keeps the latter half of the film hopping. What’s nice is the lead-in to the climax is more mental suspense than full of action, this allows for less confusion or distracting explosions, plus the lack of an overlong freeway chase makes for a tight and tense, but not overlong conclusion that; too many film’s end need to be cut by 5-10 minutes. But, of course, following protocol, the writer’s do pull one last trick out of their hat and it works well enough to wrap up the story. 

If you like films like The Bourne series or any of the blockbuster films in this genre, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is worth considering. Origin stories can be tough, however it’s how we meet Jack, and how he reacts to life-and-death situations that sets him apart from the norm and if that’s the only reason, it’s a (more) unique way to justify the changes in an oft-retold script.

(Disclosure: this post does contain affiliate links; if you buy anything through these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Read the disclosure page for details.)

You can find Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit on DVD through Amazon; it’s also digitally available to rent or buy on Amazon Video.

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Content Note: there is some violence [a body is seen badly burned, other characters are shot and there are three crashes, one involves a bomb in the back of the vehicle]. An unmarried couple lives together [there’s one scene of them talking lying in bed together], profanity consists of sh*t, misuse of God’s name and an f-word. The film is PG13.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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  • Rosie W June 19, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    My parents and I watched this last night and I really enjoyed it. Chris P. and Keira K. had great on-screen chemistry! Their banter was so cute. Now, I can't even begin to compare this to the Harrison Ford Jack Ryan movies because the older movies are so much better BUT I felt they did a decent job with this reboot. :-) Great review.

    • Rissi June 19, 2014 at 6:49 PM

      I've not seen any of the other films with Jack Ryan though I have the one with Ben A. in it (perhaps I'll have to give it a try). And I think my dad has seen 'Red October.' Either way, I enjoyed this one (maybe, that's why reviewers were so harsh on this reboot because they compared it to the older titles?) and as you said, the banter between Chris and Keria was darling. Loved that aspect. :)

      Thanks for reading, Rosie.

  • Courtney Clark June 19, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    This was a great film – I don't know why it wasn't better received in the box office. I agree, the mental suspense really drove the latter part of the movie. And Chris Pine is in it :) . Loved your review, Rissi!

    • Rissi June 19, 2014 at 6:50 PM

      It was, Courtney! I enjoyed it very much and find it too bad that it didn't do better since that lessens the likelihood of a sequel. Ah, well. I'll just enjoy re-watches of this one. ;)

      Right?? Who doesn't like Chris Pine!? ;)

      Thanks for reading, Courtney. Always glad to have you visit.

  • Hannah Barta June 19, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    Interesting :) I haven't seen this, but ironically I just watched Princess Diaries 2 the other night, and really liked Chris Pine in it this time around (the first time I watched it I didn't like it so much). I have to admit that Kiera Knightley has never been one of my favorite actors, even though she's absolutely beautiful–her acting style comes across to me the same in every. single. movie. I've ever seen her in. But I know that others think differently about her :)

    walking in the air.

    • Rissi June 21, 2014 at 5:04 PM

      Aw, I love Princess Diaries 2 and Chris in that film. Glad the second time went better for you. He's in several cute chick flicks, so I've seen him in different films though nearly all of them are more "adult" than Princess Diaries 2.

      Funny you should mention feeling Keira is the same in every role, I've seen that comment before in others reviews or just in conversation; I cannot say it's been something I've noticed though I understand that mindset because, sometimes, for whatever reason, an actor just bugs the viewer. And I certainly have my own group of actors who would fall into that category.

      Always glad you stopped in, Hannah. :)

  • SW June 21, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    Great review! I just watched Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit recently (twice :)) and I loved it! Chris Pine, Kiera Knightly, and Kenneth Branagh are all on my list of favorite actors so that made it really fun. I liked it for a lot of the same reasons you mentioned, including the patriotism and how Jack is human and has limitations, and Cathy. :)


    • Rissi June 22, 2014 at 11:05 PM

      This is definitely one I'll re-watch as well. It's a very enjoyable action flick in comparison to some of its peers because of its hero, who more relatable, and I do admire that in script writing.

      Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. :)

  • Bekah M. June 24, 2014 at 4:20 AM

    Whoa, how did I miss this post?! I was so so excited to see this review. I loved Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and I don't know why it got poor reviews either! I've seen it twice (so far). My sister and I agreed that while the Bourne movies are a little better, we appreciated the differences in this movie like the ones you mentioned (true patriotism, Jack was human, etc.). Great review, Rissi!

    • Rissi June 24, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      It snuck past you, Bekah. :)

      You know, I agree! The more I think about this film (through the great conversations in this post), the more I realize it's going to be a favorite in its genre. I liked so much about it – the fact that Jack wasn't a "ruthless" hero (yet wasn't a wimp or "loser" either)and the sense of American pride made me feel very patriotic (much like Captain America does), and also the fact that it was "smarter" than some of its competition.

      Maybe this was trashed because of the "oldie" movies with the Jack Ryan character? I'm not sure, though all I do know is this movie was really good, plus I prefer newer films vs. the 90's era. You make me want to see it again. :)

  • Ella June 24, 2014 at 6:00 AM

    So this is on my to watch list! Got reminded of it the other day!!! But I do love action flicks (Chris Pine doesn't hurt ;) )….so there is that.

    • Rissi June 24, 2014 at 8:12 PM

      Yay! Hope you enjoy it, Ella! If you have the time once you see it, drop back by to let me know what you think. And I agree, Chris Pine starring doesn't hurt a THING. ;)

  • […] you Know him From: the Jack Ryan novels by Tom Clancy + Film and TV […]

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