‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ review: Run-of-the-mill, but not unenjoyable

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February 5, 2014 by Hope W.

Chris Pine and Kevin Costner in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Chris Pine (Jack Ryan) and Kevin Costner (Thomas Harper) in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Some Russians living in the past are planning the collapse of the US economy, and it’s up to a brilliant CIA analyst to stop them. If this plot sounds familiar, it’s because every other action movie ever made, save those about unstoppable vehicles or sci-fi elements (and sometimes not even then), has it, give or take a few minor changes: the nationality of the villains, the “thing” they want to collapse, the government organisation of the hero’s vocation.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is enjoyable enough, but sadly run-of-the-mill, if you were expecting more. (I did hope a little, since Kenneth Branagh directed it, and I loved what he did with Thor.) There is even a motorcycle scene near the end that reminded me of the one in The Bourne Legacy. But since I watched the movie for Chris Pine, Keira Knightley and Kenneth Branagh (who also plays the villain) — and would do it over again — I would hardly call it a waste.

Keira Knightley (Cathy Muller) and Kenneth Branagh (Viktor Cherevin) in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Keira Knightley (Cathy Muller) and Kenneth Branagh (Viktor Cherevin) in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Chris Pine is, well, Chris Pine — his boyish charm is what I go to see him in movies for. (Think of his Jack Ryan as a little like Captain Kirk, but less brash.) Keira Knightley is gorgeous, but she looks as breakable as a twig — and that’s all I can say, because her role is essentially just the girlfriend who must be protected. They didn’t exactly have tons of chemistry together, but I could accept that because I like both actors — though other moviegoers may be less forgiving. (And they are: the movie isn’t doing well at the box office, which rules out Paramount’s hopes of another bankable franchise.) Kevin Costner as Jack Ryan’s mentor is adequate: do the job, collect the paycheck, dust your hands off. But Kenneth Branagh’s villain is so one-note; he seems to be hamming it up at times. Or is it the fault of the script? Because I don’t believe for a second that Kenneth Branagh *doesn’t* know when he is hamming it up; so it’s either deliberate on his part, or the character was just written that way.

Kenneth Branagh as the extremely well dressed Russian villain. Now where have I *not* seen that before?

Kenneth Branagh as the extremely well dressed Russian villain. Because lord forbid an evil mastermind look anything less than polished.

Watch it if you like action movies, and don’t mind seeing something you’ve already seen a thousand times before. Or if you really, really like the actors, like I do.

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