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‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ Is Enjoyable Action, But Fault Lies in the Script — Not the Stars (REVIEW AND ROUNDUP)

'Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit' Is Enjoyable Action, But Fault Lies in the Script -- Not the Stars (REVIEW AND ROUNDUP)

Reviews have arrived for Kenneth Branagh’s Tom Clancy adaptation “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” starring Chris Pine as the eponymous CIA-analyst hero. The verdict thus far is that Pine makes for an appealing (and attractive) lead, stepping into the same shoes that Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck did before him. While the action is kept at a good clip, the script falters with too many plot holes left gaping and, per Variety, “too many recycled genre parts.”

In an interview with Branagh, who also plays the villain in “Shadow Recruit,” TOH! wrote of the film:

The movie looks and sounds great, shot mostly on 35mm, as
Branagh makes the most of exotic Moscow locations. But this mainstream picture,
while competently enjoyable, can’t beat your everyday episode of
“Alias,” “The Americans” or “Homeland.” That’s
where the fault lies–not in the stars but in the script.

Review roundup:


Stepping back into the spotlight just a few months after Tom
Clancy’s death, the author’s famed CIA-analyst hero gets a spiffy new avatar
but a fairly routine assignment in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” Crisp,
efficient and appreciably modest in scale for a picture that imagines a Russian
terrorist attack massive enough to upstage 9/11, this conspicuous attempt to
breathe new life into a long-dormant action franchise gets at least a few
things right, chiefly the shrewd casting of Chris Pine in a role enjoyably
incarnated in the ’90s by Alec Baldwin (“The Hunt for Red October”) and
Harrison Ford (“Patriot Games,” “Clear and Present Danger”) before being left
for dead by Ben Affleck in 2002′s “The Sum of All Fears.” But while it zips
along divertingly enough and capably weaves together various topical threads
involving renewed U.S.-Russia hostility and global economic instability,
Kenneth Branagh’s latest helming effort ultimately feels assembled from too
many recycled genre parts to achieve more than muffled impact in the end.

The New Yorker:

Chris Pine has startlingly bright blue eyes, thick, dark
eyebrows, and a way of seeming to look for something special even when he’s
just staring into space—a gift of intentness that works well for him in “Jack
Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” where he plays the latest incarnation of the
intellectually dazzling C.I.A.-analyst hero of many books by Tom Clancy. Early
in the movie, a thug tries to kill Ryan in a Moscow hotel, and Pine also gives
a successful impression of a man frightened to death—eyes darting wildly, mouth
open wider than most acting coaches would advise. He’s an enjoyably talented
actor in these early scenes. Like “Batman Begins,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,”
and “Man of Steel,” the new movie begins as a myth of conception, or, as it’s
more commonly known, the reboot of a half-dead franchise.

Film Journal:

Branagh the director works hard to keep the momentum going
after that scene, but it’s difficult. The details of the fiendish plot feel
almost as generic as Cherevin’s doom-laden pronouncements. The staunch old Cold
Warrior in Clancy would have appreciated the nostalgic tint to lines like “We
will avenge our Mother Russia…America will bleed.” For a last quarter that
sends Ryan and Harper scurrying about trying to dismantle Cherevin’s plot,
Branagh cranks up the film’s speed, but it’s almost as though he’s just trying
to race over the script’s increasing number of potholes.

The Oregonian:

Take five parts violence to one part sex. Garnish with
quips. Serve shaken – not stirred – in a large, expensive film. That’s been the
recipe for a 007 movie for more than 50 years, and like the classic vodka
martini, it’s been often adopted, adapted, adulterated and just plain ruined. “Jack
Ryan: Shadow Recruit” though, gets the international-espionage ingredients
almost exactly right…

Yeah, so it’s not quite Bond, James Bond. But it’s Ryan,
Jack Ryan – a promising start to a probable new franchise, and an early bright
spot on the late winter film calendar.

The Hollywood Reporter:

While it benefits from an attractive cast, the perennial
allure of the spy game and the exoticism of the contemporary Moscow setting,
the biggest problem afflicting this modest diversion is that it’s the sort of
film in which computers get to the bottom of every problem that comes up in
about five seconds. It seems like half the running time consists of characters
in cars, vans or planes, in their offices or hotels or just on their cell
phones managing to download or send whatever secret information is in play with
a click or two, and nevermind such cumbersome annoyances as passwords or user
IDs. And no one ever needs to call a tech supervisor.

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