Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

jack ryan shadow recruit poster 2014 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 8/10

Some ok action sequences

Pacing of the film is erratic

Movie Info

Movie Name: Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Genre(s): Action/Adventure/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s): January 17, 2014

MPAA Rating: PG-13

jack ryan shadow recruit ending bomb chris pine

I just want to go back to space

When September 11, 2001 occurs, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) changes the direction in his life.  Joining the fight in Afghanistan, Ryan suffers a massive injury which introduces him to a medical student named Cathy Muller (Kiera Knightley).  Jack’s expertise in financial espionage attracts the attention of CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner).  Secretly recruited to the CIA, Jack finds himself on a mission to Russia to find out what Russian businessman named Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) is planning in a proposed attack against the United States.  Time is ticking, and the mission could be jeopardized when Jack’s worlds collide.

Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit is an espionage action-thriller.  The film is part of the Jack Ryan series following Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan in The Sum of All Fears in 2002.  The film was not based on a Tom Clancy novel but is a new Jack Ryan story created for the film.  The movie was met with mixed reviews.

I really want to like Jack Ryan.  The spy thriller is a genre that can either be thrilling or dull.  Jack Ryan’s approach to the thriller seems more methodical, but that can mean “dull”.  Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit feels like a movie that develops and abruptly ends.

jack ryan shadow recruit chris pine computer

Got to have an “I almost have it…it’s downloading now” sequence…

The movie is centered around Jack Ryan being inducted into the CIA.  The movie is supposed to be a soft reboot-prequel for the character and doesn’t really match up with any of the previous Jack Ryan stories simply because of the timeline of events following 9-11 (it makes it hard for him to stop a rogue Soviet sub in The Hunt for Red October).  The film takes a while to get going, has a couple action sequences, develops Viktor as the villain and then ends with a lackluster resolution to the Viktor storyline…it seems like the Viktor character should have been a bigger role overall.

The actors feel like they are going through the motions.  Chris Pine is fine as Jack Ryan but it doesn’t feel like the character develops enough since it is a restart (his first kill shows where it feels like the movie should go), and he never seems to make him his own.  Kevin Costner plays the Kevin Costner role and does it in his typical monotone calming way.  Kiera Knightley starts out with promise but turns into a damsel in distress.  I always worry when directors cast themselves, and Kenneth Branagh’s business terrorist is as generic as can be…like a Bond villain without a hook (yes, that is more realistic but not as fun).

jack ryan shadow recruit kenneth branagh keira knightley lightbulb

I don’t know what kinky stuff you are into but I’m glad you use energy efficient bulbs

Some of the action sequences are solid, but the pacing of the movie in general feels all over the place.  The tension doesn’t build right.  Since the movie is more procedural, the “waiting for computers” for directions, uploads, downloads, etc. part of the film feels tired and old…like in every Mission:  Impossible movie.

Fortunately, Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit is relatively short terms of the “political thriller”.  It feels like most of these type movies are over two hours with similar results.  With a runtime of an hour and forty-five minutes, the film is able to keep trucking for the most part.  The movie didn’t jumpstart a new series of Jack Ryan films, but Jack Ryan did return as John Krasinski in Jack Ryan—Season 1 as an Amazon original.

Related Links:

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

Patriot Games (1992)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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