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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review

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I am a fan of Jack Ryan. I’ve read from the Hunt for Red October – in which Tom Clancy introduces us to Jack Ryan – to Executive Orders – the point at which I started losing interest in Jack Ryan, since he wasn’t the analyst turned operative he was in the earlier novels, and the novels themselves had become wish-fulfillment by the author rather than straight up espionage adventure tales. I can also say that now I have seen all the movie, having recently watched Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

I would rank this above Sum of All Fears but below Patriot Games – which I would put below Clear and Present Danger, with the Hunt for Red October still being my favourite Jack Ryan movie. JR:SR is a good movie, verging on great. The performances are all solid, and it’s fun to have our old cold war foe back as the bad guy. The action was fairly well done, though I still don’t think Kenneth Brannagh – who directed this and stars as the main baddie – is a good action director. He needs to find a good action choreographer or second unit director and hand off the chore to them, like Ang Lee did for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

My biggest problem was the evil conspiracy to topple America’s economy. The terrorist plot itself was interesting, and I like that it wasn’t “end of the world” or another “OMG they’ve got nukes!” but a straight up bomb. That was refreshing. What bugged me was the financial part of the equation. I had a hard time believing that the threat was so severe. Maybe there are economists or financial managers out there who would say “fuck yeah, dude, that’s tots what would happen!” but while watching the film, I wasn’t buying it.

And if you find the villain’s plot laughable or unsatisfactory at best, that decreases a huge amount of the tension. And that’s a problem, because otherwise the espionage portions of the movie are pretty good. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I like that during the infiltration scene, they have human foibles as the greatest asset rather than having some hi-tech device do the trick.

I also don’t like how the mentor figure also becomes the operational support figure. I thought the action in Moscow would have been a good time to introduce Clark or Ding Chavez into what is hopefully going to be a continuing series.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie and would be interested in seeing more Jack Ryan movies with Chris Pine. I give Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit four financial shenanigans out of five.

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