Take Two – Sean and Graham’s Review of JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT
[AoG Writers Sean McClannahan and Graham Day both really wanted to put in their two cents about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, so their benevolent editors let them do a joint post. We thought they would have polarizing views (because that’s what usually happens with action flicks, right?), but then a you get a movie like Jack Ryan…]
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an unusual film in that it is about a character who is the poster child for a lot of Tom Clancy’s novels and films inspired by his novels. The character of Jack Ryan has had many faces, Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck and now Chris Pine. Very much like James Bond, the character Jack Ryan is a (American) super spy. Though unlike Bond, the narrative makes Jack Ryan out to be an every man, an average Joe who rises to the occasion to become something more. It is this every man style of narrative that most films go for to bring the audience closer to it’s protagonist.
With this reboot we start at the beginning (again) of Jack Ryan’s career. This time however it is brought into the modern era. We meet Jack Ryan in his formative years in college, then 9/11 occurs and we are flash forwarded to Jack Ryan as a soldier, his unit is attacked and we are (again) flash forwarded to him in his rehabilitation where we meet Cathy (Kiera Knightley), the love interest. Jack is then recruited by shadowy agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to help with protecting the United States from terrorist actions. Flash forward 10 years and we begin the narrative anew with Jack Ryan being sent to Russia to seek out the nefarious leader of a conspiracy that may bring the United States to its knees.
Hey, have you ever wanted to travel back in time to a place where Americans are always good guys and the Russians the bad guys who are patriotic to the extent that they will destroy an entire nation just to feel important again? Well you’ve come to the right place, welcome a film where the 90s cliché is alive and well, even though it’s set in 2014. There is so much wrong with this film — from the boring action set pieces to the unbelievably bad Kiera Knightley who gives such a terrible performance it just aches to watch. Every little romantic moment she and Pine have is full of cringeworthy moments. Every single one.
The most disappointing part of this film is the talent on hand and the talent behind the camera. I mean come on, Kenneth Branagh is the man who brought Thor to the mainstream. He is a fantastic actor, writer and director, so what happened? His character is laughably bad and has literally two dimensions to work with. There is a terrorist attack shoe horned into the last twenty minutes which is absolutely ridiculous.
Well there you have it, a film that celebrates everything America. Michael Bay would be proud. — Graham Day