Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
When I lived in Baltimore I had season tickets to the Orioles at Memorial Stadium (and, later, Camden Yards). The seats behind me were owned by a very nice guy who sold insurance. We would talk between innings about all kinds of things. From football (he HATED the Washington Redskins) to where to get the best burnt ends (off Route 40 near the Golden Ring mall). The man also wrote a little. His name was Tom Clancy and one of the characters he created is the subject of the new film “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.”
When we meet Jack Ryan (Pine), he’s a college student in England. Then the events of September 11, 2001 take place and we meet him again on a military mission in Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Marines. After his helicopter is attacked and crashes, his injured body is sent to Walter Reed Medical Center where he learns to walk again thanks to his beautiful doctor, Cathy (Knightley). Now working as a bank examiner, Jack hides from Cathy the fact that his job is a cover for his work as an analyst for the C.IA, where he was secretly recruited while in the hospital by Thomas Harper (Costner). Jacks latest assignment will take him to Moscow, where his dealings with crooked businessman Viktor Cherevin (Branagh) may make this lesson his last.
First things first, this film is not based on any of Tom Clancy’s books. The filmmakers have basically taken his most popular character and given him a new backstory. And, if you’re not a fan of the books, it works. While Ryan is much more of an action hero here (“you’re not just an analyst,” Harper tells him) Pine still manages to keep the character grounded in reality. Knightley gets a little more to do than in previous stories and Costner is an excellent choice to play Ryan’s mentor.
The action comes non-stop and credit director/co-star Branagh with making the film interesting, both with his performance and his guidance. The film moves quickly to a rather satisfying climax. This is not your father’s Jack Ryan and, when everything is taken into consideration, that’s really not a bad thing.