Sunday, February 9, 2014
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit review
Imagine if you took a Mission: Impossible movie, took out all the main characters except for Ethan Hunt, and then toned down everything a few notches. You would then basically have Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but I feel it's fairly accurate. The new Jack Ryan flick is about, well, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine). It starts with him in Oxford where he's studying economics, finding out about the 9/11 attacks. Then flashes forward a few years where Ryan is a Marine. He gets a bad injury in a helicopter crash and is put out of commission for a while. At rehab, he's approached by CIA director/agent guy, Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). Harper is impressed by Ryan, and then invites him to join the CIA as in analyst. After some thought, Ryan decides to go for the job. He goes undercover at a Wall Street firm, looking for false accounts and stuff of that nature. He has a girlfriend named Cathy (Keira Knightley) and he makes a decent amount of money. Jack seems to be having a decent life. Then he has to go to Russia to check out some unknown and possibly dangerous accounts held under business baddie Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh). This is when Ryan is thrown head over heels into the spy world. Having to kill people, steal information, and lie. The stuff James Bond does with no problem. I don't think anyone had really high hopes for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It's a reboot, released in January, based on a series of movies that weren't really barn burners themselves. Sure, Harrison Ford had a decent run, and The Hunt for Red October was pretty good, but the last version with Ben Affleck was just okay and the films never had a big following in the first place. The fact that the newest Jack Ryan film has even more than an ounce of originality is really a miracle. I didn't love Jack Ryan. It was really just okay, nothing truly special. Yet, as a fun little winter movie, Jack Ryan does everything it has to, and then some. Last year around this time, the newest Die Hard came out. The only thing that had to offer was being really disappointed in Bruce Willis. Too many action films that get released (I'm looking at you Fast & Furious 6) are just mediocre explosion shoot out fests with a generic plot. Jack Ryan, while occasionally cliche, has a very interesting and original story with an okay performance by Chris Pine. The evil scheme planned by Cherevin, involves buying up lots of American dollars and then dumping them as the dollar goes down and then doing some other confusing things that would basically leave America very, very poor. It would cause a second Great Depression. I have to give credit to director Branagh and writers David Koepp (who actually wrote the first Mission: Impossible) and Adam Cozad. I haven't seen this story before, and it's done quite well. While the film isn't groundbreaking in any way, it's nice to see a stripped down and slick action movie that isn't trying to be too grand or too convoluted. I enjoyed the film quite a bit. It's nowhere near great, but's it's exciting and fun. One major problem I had was the accents. Kenneth Branagh, who did a good job directing, put on a very cliche and awful Russian accent to play the villain. It sounded like an American trying to do a Russian accent, which is what it was. Which isn't a good thing. The British Keira Knightley does an equally bad American accent. She sounded like Sandra Bernhard mixed with a 6th grade girl. There's also a scene with Knightley and Pine in a hotel that felt very clunky, overly sappy, and just out of place. The rest of the movie had a fairly nice flow. Pine is capable as the hero. He throws out that assured cockiness he played in the Star Trek films, and takes up this cool patriotic persona. He does what needs to be done. He isn't amazing, but he's good. This Jack Ryan movie isn't fantastic. It doesn't do anything revolutionary. It even occasionally seems repetitive And it's not the best action movie I've seen in a while. Yet, it's interesting and fun. For a season of dismal releases. What more can you ask for? I give Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 3.3 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at Facebook.com/WhitsMovies.