Is the fourth time a charm? The latest version of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan provides audiences with a fourth face for the super-spy. Alec Baldwin took the role first in 1990's The Hunt for Red October, Harrison Ford had the lengthiest term for 1992's Patriot Games and 1994's Clear and Present Danger, and then Ben Affleck jumped in for 2002's The Sum of All Fears. Now, Universal is making Chris Pine (Star Trek) part of Ryan's humble beginnings for Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.
The film basically forgets everything and anything you've seen before, making 9/11 Ryan's main motivation to become a Marine, and eventually, a stock broker/covert CIA analyst. Kenneth Branagh takes on double-duty as both director and bad guy Viktor Cherevin, who also happens to be Ryan's boss. Well, that seems convenient in more ways than one. During a routine check, Ryan discovers that Cherevin is using certain accounts to fund a different kind of terrorist attack, on the U.S. dollar. From there, he seeks out CIA official Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) to help save his kidnapped wife (Keira Knightley sans her British accent) and the world -- or at least Wall Street.
Chris Pine takes on Tom Clancy's super-spy in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." Photo: © 2013 Paramount Pictures/Larry Horricks.
Ryan purists probably won't be all that happy that this film tries to wipe the slate clean. However, all of that could be forgiven if Branagh's interpretation delivered something truly special. Pine does his best, but is a little on the bland side. I just don't see him holding onto the Ryan role longer than anyone else on the above list. He's no Bourne, but Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an okay thriller -- but it's just okay. Besides a bunch of pretty locations and the rare (lately) on-camera appearance by Branagh, there's nothing too original, too memorable, or too super about the super-spy's latest on-screen adventure.
Jack Ryan is a major franchise for Paramount. Before this film, the character had grossed about $800 million at the box office. In other words, the studio isn't going to be skimping on this 2.40:1 image. The colors are perfect and there's tons of detail throughout the film. The locations look awesome, the clothing is textured, and the facial details are stellar. In some of the more action-packed moments, the image does get a bit fuzzy, but this won't interrupt your enjoyment one bit. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is pretty much everything you'd expect from a new blockbuster.
If you think that the immersive, dramatic soundtrack is loud right off the bat, you may want to turn down the volume a bit. Within minutes, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track sends helicopters soaring through the surrounds, followed by a massive explosion that will have you covering your ears. In other words, it's cool! Patrick Doyle's soundtrack is constantly filling the surrounds, in an effort to build up suspense. However, the audio is pretty lively otherwise, given the number of punches, gunshots, car crashes and sirens sprinkled throughout the film.
Paramount has packed this release with some pretty impressive extras. Sure, a lot of them have a promo feel, but that doesn't make them any less entertaining. Kenneth Branagh is a big star in this section -- and rightfully so. He gets his own 10-minute featurette and sits down for an interesting audio commentary track with Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Otherwise, the release includes one quickie featurette on the action scenes, another on the film and its place in the franchise, a rather lengthy look at having the Russians be the bad guys, and a short crop of deleted and extended scenes.
Considering Jack Ryan's background in books and on film, Chris Pine had some pretty big shoes to fill. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is certainly a good movie. It's just not a great movie. The above-average supporting cast, which includes Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley, certainly help boost the material that's presented here. That cast, the stellar AV and the interesting collection of extras make this one worth picking up.
Actors: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Keira KnightleyDirector: Kenneth BranaghAudio/Languages: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French, Portuguese, Spanish), DVS 2.0 (English)Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, SpanishAspect Ratio: 2.40:1Number of Discs: 2Rating: PG-13Studio: ParamountBlu-ray Disc Release Date: June 10, 2014Run Time: 105 minutesList Price: $39.99Extras: Commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Lorenzo di BonaventuraJack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the RoomSir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar of Shadow RecruitJack Ryan: A Thinking Man of ActionOld Enemies ReturnDeleted & Extended ScenesStandard-Def DVDDigital CopyUltraViolet Digital Copy