Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the latest film to bring the Tom Clancy protagonist to the big screen, stars Chris Pine in the title role.

‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’

Unlike past Jack Ryan films, Shadow Recruit doesn’t draw on a specific Clancy novel for its plot. Rather, it uses the author’s mythology to create something altogether new. Directed by Kenneth Branagh, Shadow Recruit shows Jack Ryan heading of to war after the 9/11 attacks, and later returning to America to a position in the CIA. A plot takes shape involving the Russians, which forces him into a harrowing mission to save himself and the financial stability of the U.S.

While critics appreciate the return of Jack Ryan, they’re mixed about whether Branagh found a way to modernize the tale, bringing something fresh to the franchise.

Critics Review ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’

“Take five parts violence to one part sex. Garnish with quips. Serve shaken — not stirred — in a large, expensive film. That's been the recipe for a 007 movie for more than 50 years, and like the classic vodka martini, it's been often adopted, adapted, adulterated and just plain ruined. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit though, gets the international-espionage ingredients almost exactly right.” – Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger

“Is any contemporary viewer interested in this tattered Cold War document? Everything about Jack Ryan feels woefully dated, from Branagh's Bond-style villain to the routine script by Adam Cozad and David Koepp. After the moral ambiguities of Zero Dark Thirty and the expanded global perspective of Captain Phillips, the safe retreat of Jack Ryan into yesterday's bomb bunker seems beneath even an escapist thriller. Pine brings a welcome boyishness and idealism to Ryan, but he's clobbered with clichés by his director and screenwriters. The evildoers, it turns out, were right in his own backyard. – Rafer Guzman, Newsday

“The acting is first rate. Pine brings a youthful vigor to his performance and is a worthy successor to Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. His scenes with Keira Knightley — Ryan’s longtime love interest, a doctor who helped him rehab from his war injuries — are very affecting. His transformation from a desk jockey to a superskilled secret agent happens with absurd speed, but in a movie like this that’s par for the course. Pine pulls off the transition with panache. With him in the lead and Branagh at the helm, Shadow Recruit is a thrill ride that delivers its thrills with skill and verve. – Soren Andersen, Seattle Times

“Branagh did a nice job of directing Thor, but all he can do here is try to energize the recycled pulp of the script. Costner is in fine dry form, Knightley is at her most open and gorgeous, and Pine goes through the motions of saving the Western world with a swaggery concentration that keeps you watching. I just hope that in the next Ryan outing, his charisma will have the added sheen that comes with being at least one step ahead of the audience.” – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, which stars Pine, Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner, is currently in wide release.

– Chelsea Regan

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