Jack Ryan can't defuse Shadow Recruit bomb
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a predictable, slow film where all of the clichés of a political thriller live long without prospering. It’s the Cold War all over when a Russian businessman sends his son as part of a sleeper cell to bring down the U.S. economy combining an act of terrorism with a shrewd selling off of a large amount of U.S. dollars.
There is nothing about this film that says originality. The bad guy makes all of the quintessential bad guy mistakes – booze, women, spending far too much time with the good guy, which could be pride or hubris or both – and he shoots the minion that points this out to him though there is no sense that the minion is making a self-referential joke about the film.
Keira Knightley is there to play all of the female roles – the whiny, suspicious, jealous girlfriend who doesn’t want to get married but still wants to know all of the secrets and annoys the crap out of her boyfriend while trying to trap him in a lie, the femme fatale who is supposed to keep the bad guy busy while her boyfriend goes and gets the information that is vital to the success of the mission and damsel in distress, who also provides a key component to the investigation at just the right time. Knightley is better than that, and movie goers expect better.
Any film fan expects Kevin Costner to say, “I am getting to old for this s—t” as he attempts to keep up with Chris Pine. Pine may be the most uncharismatic movie star in cinema history; however, he can act. In the scene where he kills someone for the first time in hand-to-hand combat and its aftermath, Pine conveys through his facial features and body language the emotions that Ryan is going through. After a talk with Costner’s character, the incident, aside from some stray hotel shots, is mostly forgotten.
The secondary bad guy doesn’t fall far from the tree. He is following a plan that was far too complicated and precise to be successful. (More movie bad guys need to learn how to be flexible then their plans won’t fall apart so often.) The final chase and fight sequence seem to play out in slow motion even if they are in real time.
Unfortunately, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit fails to be anything but a disappointment with nothing new to bring to the film industry or to the political thriller genre. There was never any sense that Ryan could fail, and without those stakes, the movie could not survive its clichés.