Film Review – Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit


Jack Ryan – Shadow Recruit

Release Date – January 16th 2014

In my own mind I often equate movies with meals.

There is a tendency in my own habits to use food as an indulgence rather than just sustenance.

So as I eat too much, sometimes I watch too much. This year I’ve set a loose goal of watching one film per day.

Some are new releases, others are recent flicks I missed or wish to see again, and some are classics I’ve never experienced.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Agent” is a fast food meal. Wolfed down in between other parts of life, it’s to be enjoyed while it lasts, but quite probably regretted on completion.

As Jack Ryan shook the Presidents hand in the final scene and as the credits began to roll, I actually wanted to boo.

But as the story was one of fervent jingoistic patriotism for the good old U.S of A., I dared not express my dissent lest I should find myself accused of being a commie.

For the main target of the CIA in this film is not the Middle East, nor Asia, or home grown enemies.

Rather it is the tried and tested foe of freedom – Russia.

A Moscow sanctioned plot to crash the US economy off the back of a bombing on American soil form the backbone of the conspiracy against which reluctant marine turned CIA hero Jack Ryan finds himself pitted.

Chris Pine (who was so fun to watch as the young James T Kirk in the Star Trek reboots) performs admirably under the direction of Kenneth Branagh, who also plays the lead baddie – Vladimir or Nikolai or someone.

In case he wasn’t Russian enough or bad enough, he is addicted to drugs, vodka and women.

Desperate to strike a blow against his lifelong adversary of America, he is hell bent on collapsing the US economy to bring on the “Second Great Depression”.

I can reel off over a dozen films that tell the same (or similar) story, only SO, SO much better.

The first four Die Hard films. The first three Bourne films. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Most movies that have Mark Wahlberg or Tom Cruise or even Harrison Ford in them.

I love Bourne movies because to my mind they ask the hard questions about what the American government is prepared to make its population sacrifice to thrash its enemies. Namely the integrity and human rights of its citizens in the ruthless pursuit of all foes, real or imagined.

This is a film that plays straight in to the hands of those zealots who insist “the CIA won’t be caught off guard again”.

And so armed with a handful of (frankly feeble) operatives wearing the obligatory headsets while tapping on laptops, Ryan makes his way to Moscow to hack into some shadowy financial system with the aim of uncovering the details of a suspected attack on America.

I won’t give away the major plot points that follow in the drastic event that you have two hours to kill in an airport or multiplex somewhere.

I must say I was on the edge of my seat for much of the film and it’s action pieces were executed with some degree of panache. But there was not a single plot point or even piece of dialogue that couldn’t be seen coming a mile off.

I wanted to sit back and switch my brain off, but my brain would not shut up. it kept saying quite loudly to itself – “Hey, this is really stupid and hardly believable, and you’ve seen all these movies before – except they were so much better.”

When Jack says to his wife – “I’m sorry Cath, you didn’t pick this life. I did”, You know the only answer she’ll give is “But I picked you”. And the only thing I can add to this is – don’t pick this film.


2 & 1/2.

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