Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Year: 2014
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Director: Kenneth Brannagh
Writer: Adam Cozad/David Koepp/Tom Clancy
Cast: Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Brannagh

When they finally got around to rebooting James Bond in Goldeneye after the disastrous run of the Timothy Dalton years, M (Judi Dench) tells Bond (Pierce Brosnan) at one point that he's a dinosaur and a relic of the Cold War.

The same criticism could be leveled not only at Jack Ryan but any of the classic literary spies (and their movie adaptations) from Tom Clancy, Len Deighton or John Le Carre, so any studio trying to make Ryan young and hip for a new generation faces an uphill battle - as the box office reception to this movie proved.

Ryan is a soldier injured in a chopper crash while on tour in the Middle East, and while he convalesces and falls in love with his nurse (Keira Knightley), September 11 happens and changes everything. While in his new life studying economics, Jack is targeted by a CIA recruiter (Kevin Costner) and told his new training can help America fight terrorism when it inevitably turns towards crippling the economy through monetary and cyber-attacks.

He becomes an analyst, keeping his identity secret from everyone including his beau, but when the powers that be get the word of a huge and catastrophic operation being planned by Russian industrialist Cherevin (director Brannagh, channeling every eeeevil Russian from every Cold War thriller ever), they quickly put Jack in the field. The stakes are raised when Ryan finds the trail that leads to a huge twin-pronged terrorist attack on New York and the American economy.

There are a couple of impressive set pieces like the break-in to Cherevin's high tech office and a welcome old-school air of clandestine meetings and hastily-passed packages in the night, but most of the action is the same old car chases and fights you've seen a million times, none of it enough to stand out from the crowd. And while Pine might impress when supported by the crew of the Enterprise, he's a bit too bland to command the screen by himself.

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