JACK RYAN : SHADOW RECRUIT (2014) : REVIEW

January 17, 2014

"Sometimes the ones closest to us are the ones we should trust the least… If you find the truth, will you believe it?"
Chauvinism; : the superior act coming from an absolute love and fidelity towards one's country which is mostly categorized as a false and dangerous deed. Well, the movie was very much all about that. And a little espionage, fun-chasing and data-encrypting; just your little spy-thriller cliché. Jack Ryan, the late Tom Clancy's infamous character of a CIA analyst who turns into a hero in all 9 novels of his, is now played by the abyss-blue-eyed Chris Pine, following the footsteps of 90's Alec Baldwin in "The Hunt for Red October", Harrison Ford in "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger", also the forgettable stand-alone of Ben Affleck in 2002's "The Sum of All Fears". And oh, directed by Thor's Kenneth Branagh who happened to be the sole villain in the movie as well. I didn't put any expectation on this movie, especially on this particular genre, so yeah, how was it?

John Patrick "Jack" Ryan (Chris Pine) was just a college student chasing his PhD at London School of Economic when the twin tower collapsed, scarring the heart of every Americans ever lived, as well as Jack's. He then decided to put on a uniform and join the marine 18 months later, causing himself a severe back injury resulted by the downfall of his unit's chopper back in Afghanistan. His recovery took months, but luckily he met his heart & soul in Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley)'s self, who was his recovery doctor back there. Unexpectedly, he also met Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), the blatantly-proclaimed CIA official who took interest in him and asked him to be an undercover compliance officer at Wall Street. He took the job (obviously) and been living it for 10 years without Cathy even knowing it. Short story short, Jack found an anomaly in dirty Russian mogul named Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh)'s financial files, forcing him to fly to Moscow to get a closure, when actually Jack knew that something was up and that something might cause a severe damage to America's and probably the world's economy. On the other hand, Jack's fiancée, Cathy, managed to take the liberty to secretly visit Jack in Moscow and unexpectedly involved herself in much bigger and dangerous situation she would never have expected before.

The script was original, written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp, based on Clancy's initial definition of Jack Ryan's early lifehood. The plot was pretty much simple and flowy (though sometimes the data-downloading and the chit-chatty moments were kinda distracting and dull), but I was having a hard time determining the plot point. They were too focused on making a financial background, then all of sudden the chasing and the third party happened; like those significant changes didn't really add up and tangle to all of the things built in the first-half. It was like we were given a fun ride through Kremlin walls, flirty moment in mesmerizing buildings, only to be led to the disastrous and pretty much flat situation back in America. Too bad, because I kinda like the action sequences there, but there was no connection, no fall-into-the-hole-together whatever feeling.

Pine, Pine, Pine; I felt like he was a switch button the entire time. It was like, "OK, you're not an analyst anymore. You're operational now. So, switch, be the expert agent. Decide everything. Do it well. Because apparently there's no other qualified agent in the CIA HQ, so we're handing off an National matters to an amateur and an old handler." and then "OK, you're an inexperienced trainee, follow the order." and then "OK, be the man your Cathy wants you to be." It went on and on and on, like he just sort of there rather than giving an actual, rooting performance. He just completed the act, nothing else. Knightley fell flat on delivering American accent, but I appreciate her effort on being the sugarcoat in almost every moments (despite the annoying screaming) and being a good match to Pine's character. Their desperation on each other, especially when it comes to trust field; they nailed it. Costner was brilliant, the exact portrait of what an ideal CIA agent should be; smooth, though, demanding, calculated and a little tense and unexpected. His on-screen chemistry and bond with Pine was what I cherished the most in this movie. Branagh delivered an ideal performance as a villain as well, with that thick Russian accent and abrupt demeanor, also with his obssession towards Napoleon and his weaknesses of vodka, pride and married women.

Finally said, Jack Ryan : Shadow Recruit was an OK watch; imagine James Bond's suave and dashing set mixed with Jason Bourne fuzzy identity-seeking. I can't recommend you though, you just have to decide for yourself.


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