​Paramount pictures is really hoping that all these years (from 1990 Alec Baldwin to 2002 Ben Affleck and all the Harrison Ford in between) you have been wondering how covert CIA agent Jack Ryan got his start. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the answer to that question, as the popular action hero adapted from Tom Clancy’s novels is for the first time not based on one of the books. Director Kenneth Branagh chose the Jack Ryan reboot over directing Thor 2 and I think, either way, the actor/director loses. Shadow Recruit, which was originally slated for last month, is mildly entertaining at best and the answer to that origin question isn’t very interesting.

​ After recovering from a near death mission in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Jack Ryan (Pine) is recruited to the most secret branch of the CIA, the department that ensures attacks like 9/11 never happen again. Embedded as a financial analyst, his job was to comb over suspicious data pertaining to high level investors, but secret no-name accounts lead him to Russia where his former combat skills will need to be reactivated very quickly. His handler and former mentor Thomas Harper (Costner) gives him the encouragement needed to pursue a high level threat that could devastate New York and the entire country again.

​ The opening and developing background story, while necessary, panders back and forth until we finally get an idea of who present day Jack Ryan is. It isn’t enough that Chris Pine is an action star in the Star Trek series as Captain Kirk or that he, alongside Denzel Washington, created a really nice suspense thriller with Unstoppable two years ago. Pine is still chasing after action hero status, and while he may be the hero here, he will die the victim of a false start and overkill in what audiences are willing to take from one actor. Pine’s ascension into blockbuster status won’t last long because he doesn’t have the charm or talent of Ben Affleck or Harrison Ford that led them from Jack Ryan to far better things.

​ The interesting or unfortunate timing of this film with the hostility towards Russia at present should raise a few eyebrows. Not only is he the director, but Branagh (My Week with Marilyn, Harry Potter) is the Russian villain as well. I wish I could say that the presence of Costner (another actor turned director) or Knightly increase the wow factor of the film, but it is in fact without a wow factor. It’s truly anticlimactic and severely without original or unique action and suspense sequences. The most interesting moment in the entire film is Ryan’s coming out moment to his girlfriend about his real identity, which only proves that Branagh should steer clear of these blockbusters and return to characters, people and stories that mean something.

 Final Thought – This reboot lacks juice.

 Grade C

By: Dustin Chase