Director: Kenneth Branagh
Studio: Skydance Productions
Stars: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley
The usual backwash of January jetsam has washed Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit into local cinemas. It sounds like a computer game, but instead it's a nicely made, overly complicated, Bourne-esque thing, directed by Kenneth Branagh and scripted by Adam Cozad and David Koepp from the late Tom Clancy’s blandly efficient but colorless Cold War-mongering relic. It's also a bit of a snooze. Electric blue-eyed Chris Pine takes over in the leading role of the CIA analyst, and where earlier Ryans (played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) got sent hunting for Red October or messing about with the I.R.A., all Pine gets are tired clichés and leftovers. We meet our hero as a soldier in Afghanistan in 2003, a guy nobly inspired by the horror of 9/11 to do something big for the homeland. When the story picks up about a decade later, Ryan is doing his underground thing as a well-entrenched Wall Street mole. Following his suspicions to Moscow, he sniffs out a dastardly Russian scheme for unleashing violence and economic chaos. From there, expect plenty of running, bang-bang, fights, meant-to-be-tense computer download sequences and chases. Just don't expect anything that will have you grabbing the edge of your seat. Pine, good in motion, quick with a quip if lacking in gravitas, is more than up to the job. Along the way, he gets entangled with his nurse-turned-fiancée Keira Knightley (doing her best) and with CIA officer and recruiter Kevin Costner (in smooth operator mode). But the whole caper smells of yesterday’s news and movies from two decades ago. If there’s to be another stab at rebooting the Jack Ryan franchise, let’s hope next time the script gives our hero—and the audience—at least a few compelling reasons to give a damn.