Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Blu-ray Review
Author Tom Clancy wrote several successful espionage novels following military science storylines. Those in turn have transferred into a lucrative video game franchise and a handful of thrilling films following his character Jack Ryan. Unfortunately, the newest film goes rogue choosing to forgo following any of the late author’s books and making their own story based on the popular character. As a result, JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is a a generic, watered-down rehash of what I used to consider to be an exciting brand of films.
Jack Ryan has been portrayed by more than a few familiar faces in his time. First was Alec Baldwin in 1990’s THE HUNT FOR THE RED OCTOBER, then Harrison Ford in 1992’s PATRIOT GAME and again in 1994’s CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. After an eight year hiatus, Ben Affleck took over the role for 2002’s THE SUM OF ALL FEARS. Now, twelve years later, Chris Pine (STAR TREK) takes on the lead character as an origin story of sorts in JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT.
The story begins with a rather quick run through of Jack Ryan becoming a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marines, being critically injured during the Afghanistan war, needing rehab to walk, and meeting a medical student Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) who becomes the love of his life. Jump ten years later where Jack Ryan (it should be noted the film loves utilizing his full name) is a new covert CIA analyst. After uncovering a plot to crash the U.S. economy by a Russian cliché villain played by Kenneth Branaugh, Jack Ryan and his mentor, Thomas Harper, played by a rather sleepy Kevin Costner, must work together to stop a massive terrorist attack.
The film is centralized around one major scene in which Ryan, excuse me, Jack Ryan, and his girlfriend must distract the bad guy long enough at dinner so they can infiltrate his office. It’s such a pedestrian scheme that a child would see the holes in this oversized swiss cheese fest of action. Director and actor Kenneth Branaugh doesn’t provide anything new or exciting in his vision of the film or character. The climatic showdown is void of tension or entertainment leaving JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, aside from a couple of “nice” moments, as an instantly forgettable work that lacks any creativity and ingenuity.
Like the actors before him, Chris Pine does a sufficient job as Jack Ryan. The problem doesn’t necessarily lie with his performance but instead with the unoriginal script that turns the unassuming hero more into a run-of-the-mill action star. Not so subtle lines like, “I’m out of my element,” don’t speak as loudly as the character’s proficient actions. Tom Clancy’s once subtly brilliant and humble character has been turned into someone we’ve seen before and more impressively. With the Bourne, Mission Impossible and Bond movies all doing it better, JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT feels as though it should have come out thirty years earlier. Because why would anyone make a movie this bland after seeing these superior films?
“Why” is probably the biggest question I can come up with when watching this film. It’s not that this film is terrible, it’s just that we’ve seen it done before and done more effectively. Sure, it might slightly appease that rare person who has never seen an espionage action film on a lazy Saturday afternoon but I promise, you can find a more stimulating one by simply watching an old favorite that you’ve seen many times before.
Video: (MPEG-4 AVC, 1080p 2.39:1) The picture quality is fantastic showing off lots of detail and color with top notch clarity.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1) A terrific sound throughout the film thanks to the high production value.
Commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Lorenzo di Bonaventura: A strong commentary from director Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. They discuss every aspect of the film in great detail that is informative and educational.
Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the Room (13:37): Ironically, they do their best in this featurette trying to convince us why Jack Ryan is different from Bourne or Bond and why this film was worth making. Clearly, the filmmakers realize their weakness and try to cut off the problem by just doing word service of saying the opposite of all my complaints.
Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar of Shadow Recruit (9:49): Everyone talks about how Branagh did a wonderful job directing and acting in the film.
Jack Ryan: A Thinking Man of Action (5:19): This talks about the unknown talents of Jack Ryan as an unlikely action hero.
Old Enemies Return (21:13): A rather extensive look at choosing the Soviet Union/Russia as the villain and our history with the country.
Deleted & Extended Scenes (5:03): Five scenes that don’t add too much plus and alternate ending with optional director commentary.