The Blind Leading The Bland


Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan character was a semi-regular fixture on the big screen from 1990’s Hunt For Red October until The Sum of All Fears over a decade later in 2002. Three actors played the part (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck) but since Hollywood is allergic to new ideas, they have decided to resurrect the now-deceased Clancy’s CIA operative in another attempt to bring back the franchise. 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has Chris (Star Trek) Pine in the lead role and director Branagh has brought it up to date, beginning with the 9/11 attacks. Ryan gets seriously injured in Afghanistan and is forced to reinvent his life. He is recruited by CIA handler Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), who tells him he can continue to serve his country as a covert agent for the CIA. Ryan marries his doctor, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) but their marriage and her life is put in jeopardy when Ryan starts to investigate evil Russian Viktor Cherevin (a very unconvincing Kenneth Branagh). It’s not necessarily that Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a bad film, although Knightley is awful (but at least she is consistent) and Branagh shows that a director should’t play the villain, it’s that it’s so telegraphed and predictable. The Bourne films raised the bar significantly on Hollywood action films but Jack Ryan feels like a clunky throwback to a more unsophisticated age. Pine is competent and Costner is easily the best thing here although he is totally wasted. It is possible that we may see another Jack Ryan film as it will probably do okay at the box office especially at this time of year with little competition, but they need to up their game if they do. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a perfunctory but ultimately forgettable film…