"You're not just an analyst anymore, you're operational now."
The most famous and beloved CIA analyst, Jack Ryan, is back for the fifth time although now it's Chris Pine's turn to interpret the hero Tom Clancy first made famous in his novels. Pine brings a fresh and charismatic presence to his character's reboot. By no means is Shadow Recruit groundbreaking or memorable, but it still is a lot of fun and engaging. I was actually surprised I enjoyed it so much considering January releases are usually weak, but knowing that Kenneth Branagh was behind the camera did give me some hope. Jack Ryan slowly builds the tension and ends with a thrilling and gripping 30 minutes. There are many weak and cliched moments, but for the most part I was entertained. The supporting cast was also strong and Branagh played a decent villain, but my favorite performance was Kevin Costner's. The film's major flaws have to do with the way the plot was developed since there were many scenes where two characters are explaining the situation going on to each other and it's evident the scenes were only included so the audience could understand what was going on. But beside those forced scenes, this thriller managed to keep me entertained and I thought Pine was a convincing Jack Ryan.
We are introduced to Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) while he's studying at London School of Economics, but after the 9/11 attacks he decides to enlist and serve in Afghanistan as a Marine. During a routine mission his helicopter gets shot down and he's critically injured. As he undergoes rehab he meets Dr. Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) and the two begin a relationship. Jack also attracts the attention of CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) who decides to recruit Jack for his ability to recognize complex patterns. Harper convinces Jack to return to school and complete his Ph. D so he can become a broker in Wall Street and work undercover as a compliance officer looking for suspect financial transactions. Ryan discovers some suspicious activity involving a Russian organization through a fund controlled by Viktor Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh). For this reason Ryan travels to Moscow to investigate Cheverin's company and upon his arrival he isn't greeted too well. This is where the action and espionage games begin.
Chris Pine is a very charismatic actor; he proved it during the Star Trek reboot, and now he has done the same thing with Jack Ryan. He's also starred in other entertaining action films like Unstoppable alongside Denzel Washington holding up his own. Here he delivers once again playing a very convincing Jack Ryan. I actually enjoyed him more than Ben Affleck who played the same character, and despite not reaching the high standard set by Harrison Ford, I still thought he was great. Branagh is also a pretty bankable director and I enjoyed what he brought to this film. Jack Ryan may be a forgettable film, but one that manages to entertain you while you're at it.