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Based on the trailers for this movie, I was expecting Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit to be a slightly less action packed version of a James Bond movie, still full of action and explosions without a ton of character depth. As it turned out, the actual level of these aspects were flipped, as there wasn’t much big scale action, and instead seemed more focused on the character development of Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), his girlfriend Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), and his mentor Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). However, the movie fell short in parts with this goal, leaving me wanting more, not in the sense of enjoyment, but in the sense of wanting a fuller and more developed story, as for me it left something to be desired.

Ryan is recruited by Harper to join the CIA, and is eventually sent to Russia to meet with a Russian businessman. After he avoids being killed by his airport driver in one of the best scenes of the film, he discovers that the man he is meeting with, Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh, also the director), is masterminding a terrorist attack that will plummet the US dollar and set the economy into a downward spiral. Here in lies the problem of the movie. Because the attack is on wall street, as opposed to a huge landmark like the Capitol or Empire State building for example, the danger never seems too real, especially on a grand, mass casualty scale.

With this lack of action that you would likely expect from a movie like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, you are left hoping that the personal connections of the character develop to engross the viewer into the movie, which never really seemed to happen. Perhaps it was Knightley’s American accent, which while pulled off well, was just really weird considering I can’t remember ever hearing her talk without her natural accent. Or perhaps it was a disconnect between Ryan and Harper, who are supposed to be like a father and son relationship dynamic. It always felt like Harper was caring for Jack Ryan the agent, rather than Jack Ryan the man. It was disconnects like this that led to much of the movie dragging along to a climax that proved to be underwhelming.

There are certainly a few bright spots in the movie, scenes that did live up to the action packed movie the trailer had promised to deliver. The aforementioned bathroom scene between Ryan and a hired assassin provided not only some of the best action in the movie, but some of the best improvised hand-to-hand combat that I’ve seen in a spy movie in quite some time. There was another great scene of Ryan sprinting down a staircase, with Harper covering him from across the street with a sniper. However, these moments were few and far between, simply sprinkled in between lulls of shallow character development and story.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit isn’t a bad movie. It’s simply underwhelming. While the groundwork is there for a good movie, it doesn’t quite reach it’s potential, sacrificing the classic “villain threatening the world” angle for character development that only goes so far, leaning to an all together average and simply okay movie going experience.

Have you seen Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit? If so, let us know what you thought in the comments!

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The Author

Kevin Taylor

Kevin Taylor

I grew up in the south, raised watching TV, Movies, and Sports. Entertainment is my life, and I can't imagine what my life would be like without it. I'm a USC grad, and proud to be a Trojan for life! Some of my favorite shows include South Park, Always Sunny, Dexter, and How I Met Your Mother, which I write a weekly recap of here. I also play and report on poker for a living. Its a hard way to make an easy living!