Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit + DVD consideration of Jack Ryan films - 2 stars

It is an interesting experience reviewing a film based on a Tom Clancy character living outside of the United States. As an American, this film causes patriotic emotions and enthusiasm for the US system of counter terrorism. As an Australian  citizen, it causes me to roll my eyes at the continual focus on American interests opposed to worldwide interests. So, I will strive to keep my political views in check and review the film on its entertainment value. 

With all that is going on with the the world spying issues, I am sure that this film will have mixed responses from audiences. In the end, it is a energy packed, spy motion picture and good for a Saturday afternoon of fun. 

Storyline: 2.5

Have you read Tom Clancy's novels? They are interesting, but so over the top with intricate details that for any director to utilise the basis of his book in the story line is almost impossible. Fortuantely for the writers of Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit, all they have to do is give credit to the character of Jack Ryan and his history from Clancy's novels. The rest is left to them, since this is an original script and storyline. 

The storyline is a precursor to the Jack Ryan character and how he became involved with the world of espionage. The storyline is not original compared to other spy films, but as a development of the characters for a potential franchise reboot. 

There are numerous holes to the story line, but within this genre of film they are forgivable. 

Visual Effects: 2

The different back drops of Russia, London and the US were nice, but not essential for the story line to move along. 

The best visual components of this film would be the action sequences, but most of them would be similar to other action films. Exciting, but unoriginal.

Direction & Acting: 3

The chemistry between Jack (Chris Pine) and his fiancĂ©, Cathy (Keira Knightley) was good and well written. Also, the Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) character was my favourite role in the film. Costner has emerged as a good mentoring character in current films and I hope they would be able to develop this character in future films. As villains go, Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) character is two dimensional and forgettable. 

Branagh as the director does a good job of moving the story along and keeping us at the edge of our seats throughout the action sequences. The best pats of the film were the action portions and Jack/Cathy and Ryan/Harper relationships.

Family component: 2
Relatively light language, no nudity, but violence and action sequences place this in the teen / adult film category.

God component: 2

The references to the Russian Orthodox church are benign. They are not offencive, but also do not show any influence on the characters in the film. 

One of the best scenes in the film was when Ryan had to find the Harper character in Moscow. As they meet, Jack has to make a decision on loyalty. Thomas Harper says, 'Jack, you need to decide who to trust.' This is the deep philosophical question of life. One that is considered throughout the film. Who do you trust? 

Overall rating: 2

I enjoyed this film. The characters have potential for future development and the audience is left with a prologue to the story of their lives.  Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit was fun and engaging, but lacked originality in story. Good Saturday matinee. 

DVD Considerations: 
It has been 12 years since the last Jack Ryan film. It might be worth going back to get some of the history behind this Tom Clancy character. 

Interesting Fact about Jack Ryan franchise:
Tom Clancy didn't like that movies like 'Clear and Present Danger' and 'Patriot Games' didn't simply reproduce the plots of his novels, which were too complex to fit into a two-hour screenplay. Clancy also criticised Harrison Ford's casting in those two films, saying the actor was too old to play Ryan, but appreciated Ben Affleck's portrayal in 2002's "The Sum of All Fears."
Russelling Rankings:
1. The Hunt for Red October (Ranking due to Sean Connery, this was the weakest Jack Ryan in Alec Baldwin)
2. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
3. Patriot Games (Sean Bean was one of the best villains in this franchise)
3. Clear and Pleasant Danger
4. Sum of All Fears 
Honourable Mention: Crimson Tide (Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman gold. (Not Clancy or Ryan, but worth a look)
Written by Russell W Matthews @ Russelling Reviews