"Serving Uncle Sam"
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is a thoroughly rousing action tale about American superspy Jack Ryan having to stop a Russian terror attack at the start of his career. It has a highly patriotic viewpoint with strong moral elements as he saves the world, but this is undercut by a Romantic element due to the hero’s cohabitation outside marriage with his fiancée and plenty of foul language.
The movie stars Chris Pine as Jack Ryan. The story kicks off around 9/11, as Ryan is a Marine shot down on a mission in Afghanistan shortly after the World Trade Center attacks. Jack’s in the midst of intense physical therapy when William Harper, a Naval officer who secretly works for the CIA played by Kevin Costner, secretly recruits Ryan to investigate the financial dealings of terrorist groups to predict and prevent attacks on the financial markets.
Ten years later, Ryan is secretly ensconced as a seemingly normal financial analyst on Wall Street while living with his former physical therapist, Cathy, played by Keira Knightley. Ryan notices trillions of dollars are being shifted on world markets by a front group he traces to a Russian oligarch named Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh). Harper sends Ryan to inquire about the deals.
However, Ryan is suddenly shot at and forced to fight to the death against the man who’s been assigned to him as a bodyguard by his Russian hosts. Consequently, he’s forced to move well beyond his training as a desk analyst and fight his way out of one escapade after another while trying to figure out Cherevin’s ultimate plan.
Things get even more complicated when Cathy suspects he’s having an overseas affair and decides to surprise him in Moscow. Ryan loves his country, but he loves Cathy even more. When she’s endangered, he sets off on an even more frantic chase to save her life as well foil a terrorist attack designed to collapse the U.S. dollar.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is a total thrill ride. It takes off breathlessly like a rocket, creating a spy movie that rivals modern masterpieces like SKYFALL. The movie could easily coast on having great action and a terrific villain, but with Branagh also serving as director, the movie has more depth than one might expect.
There is an impressively personal aspect to Ryan’s adventures. The movie sows him shaken and almost mournful after he has to commit his first kill, even though he was defending himself against a rogue bodyguard. That fight scene has a great ramshackle feel to it, making the audience believe that Ryan is really thinking up on the spot what to do to save himself rather than seeming like a proficient robot a la Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt in the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies.
As entertaining as the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies are, JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT winds up being more impressive by being more grounded in its characters and realistic in its stunts. When the audience can believe that its hero may really not know what he’s doing but finds a way to step ahead of villainy or death nonetheless, then the plot seems more surprising and the stakes seem higher.
The movie also scores points for being unabashedly patriotic. Ryan rises to the challenge of defending his nation. Thus, he takes chances even at the expense of his own health and safety. The movie also has great fun with making Russians the villains once again after two decades of being overlooked as bad guys amid the post-Cold War thaw in relations.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT does have some intense action violence, including car chases, hand-to-hand combat, and violent threats. There’s also a significant amount of foul language and a hint of an improper sexual relationship between the hero and his fiancée. With that strong caution in mind, SHADOW RECRUIT is otherwise a tastefully made, exciting thrill ride that older media-wise teenagers and adults may want to consider seeing.
(BBB, PPP, LLL, VV, S, A, D, M) Very strong moral, Pro-American, patriotic worldview; about 27 or so obscenities and profanities; strong intense action violence includes expertly staged car chases involving mass destruction of other vehicles and property without conveying damage done to human beings, two intense hand-to-hand combat scenes, a couple shootouts between the good guys and bad guys, villain tries to kill the hero’s fiancé by making her bite into a dangerous lightbulb that can instantly poison her, a massive explosion, a point-blank assassination; implied fornication between hero and fiancée as they are shown sitting in bed afterwards before they get married and cohabitation between unmarried couple; no nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, deception, financial manipulation, and attempted terrorism but by the villains.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT kicks off around 9/11. Ryan is a Marine shot down on a mission in Afghanistan shortly after the World Trade Center attack. Jack’s in the midst of intense physical therapy when a Naval officer who secretly works for the CIA secretly recruits him to investigate the financial dealings of terrorist groups. Ten years later, Ryan is secretly ensconced as a seemingly normal financial analyst on Wall Street while living with his former physical therapist. Ryan uncovers a terrorist plot by the Russians to collapse the U.S. dollar. He’s forced to become a real superspy, but his adventures endanger his future wife, as well as his own life.
JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT is a total thrill ride. The story takes off breathlessly like a rocket, creating a spy movie that rivals recent masterpieces like SKYFALL and the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies. The story has unexpected depth, with a strong moral, patriotic worldview. However, the action is sometimes intense. There’s also plenty of foul language and some innuendo. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution for JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT.