“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is a new take on the classic character from Tom Clancy’s novels. Unlike previous movies that feature the Jack Ryan character like “Patriot Games” and “The Sum of All Fears,” this story was not adapted from a novel. Ryan is brought into modern times and portrayed at a younger age compared to when Harrison Ford played the role. Chris Pine does a fine job as Ryan with charisma and intrigue, but the real highlight of this film is Kenneth Branagh. Not only did he direct the film, but he also turns in the best performance as the film’s villain. From an Oscar-nominated role as Henry V 25+ years ago to a Russian villain, Branagh reminds us of his ability to adapt to any role (while directing!) Keira Knightley also turns in a nice performance, showing the refinement that has developed in her acting since the days of “Pirates of the Caribbean.” My favorite scene of the entire movie is her rouse that allows Ryan enough time to hack the system. My main issue with this film is that the complexity of the story isn’t tempered with an easily understood explanation. Even when Kevin Costner asks him to explain it like he’s an idiot, I still had to rewind it to make sure that I understood the plot correctly! It has its slow moments and implausible moments but still created a nice blend of action and psychological excitement. Probably the biggest surprise was the lack of a surprise. I expect a big perspective-changing twist from films like this but there was none. There is nothing wrong with a straightforward action film, but once you add this level of intrigue you expect some sort of twist. “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” isn’t my favorite of the Jack Ryan films, but it does justice to the character and takes you on a wild ride, even if there isn’t a twist.
[Pictured: Pine and Branagh are a perfect match]