Despite never having seen a Jack Ryan film or read any of the novels he is featured in I was really looking forward to seeing this film. That probably had something to do with the cast as many of the main characters were played by actors who I quite like, so I made a point of seeing this film as soon as it came out as I didn’t want to miss its cinema run, was it any good though?
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was fine. It was okay, nothing special. This really is a shame as I thought it was going to be a really decent action spy thriller kind of film, unfortunately it falls rather flat. I enjoyed the performances from Pine, Costner, Knightley and Branagh, there is nothing wrong here there are simply some other issues with the film that result in it selling itself short. Many of the characters had the potential to be explored more and therefore have a greater impact on the film. Kenneth Branagh plays the Russian villain well however at no time does he really ever seem like much of a threat, he wasn’t menacing enough to create any real sense of danger or an atmosphere on screen. I have no doubt that Branagh could have delivered this it was simply the character that was limited. As was commented on the latest edition of Film 2014 when they discussed this film, one of the major problems with this film is Jack Ryan himself. He is an annalist not an action hero, and this is very apparent. Chris Pine plays him well and his lack of field skills is made clear which often brought a slight element of humour to the screen but is this really what we want our main characters to be like? Costners character has to step in on several occasions and do the ‘actiony’ type side of things, as good as it was to see this I wanted Jack Ryan to be more bad ass then he was.
The action is fairly consistent throughout but there were no really amazing set pieces, this left me felling a little underwhelmed, nothing flowed together that well and anything that seemed to be going somewhere was cut short just at the wrong time. The best scene was probably the one where Ryan infiltrates the Russian villains office – more of this throughout would have benefited. This film was over far to quickly, whilst I was watching the finale I actually thought I was watching the middle of the movie and I was happily waiting for the story to be escalated to the next level. However when things began to wrap up I checked the time to see if it was actually nearing the end and to my disbelief it was! The finale was good, but not for a finale. It would have been a brilliant set piece for the middle to gain momentum however it didn’t meet the standards of a good action finale. I missed a final showdown, I wanted there to be a confrontation between Jack Ryan and the villain, however this did not come and instead we were served up an underwhelming and predictable ending for him.
I am really gutted that this film did not excite me as much as I thought it would, it could have been so much more. I really wanted to love this movie, now I liked this movie however there is much that could be changed to improve it but hopefully there will be a sequel and the Jack Ryan series can build on Shadow Recruit despite it being a rather unstable and unimpressive foundation.
BIGGEST FLAW – It is too short, therefore lacking any real finale
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – Well acted by a great cast
Despite me being a little disappointed by this film I did enjoy it and I will get it on DVD. I am now also intrigued by the previous films in the Jack Ryan series and I will hopefully be able to explore them very soon and I will be sure to let you know what I think about them. I am excited to see the future for Jack Ryan and as Shadow Recruit was an origin story I suppose it is natural for the characters to be a little unsure of themselves so hopefully next time around they can be more assertive.
Rating – 6/10