Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit 1.0 stars

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit movie poster

Disappointing, but only because it manages to raise hopes in the first place. Journeyman director Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Thor) does his level best to give us a small-scale story with large-scale consequences — you know, characters we care about, a situation of some importance, and a few gadgets and gunfights along the way — and almost manages it. Analyst Jack Ryan (Chris Pine, in over his head), a wounded war hero turned CIA moneywatcher, notices some funky Russian accounts and heads to Moscow to investigate. His fiancée (Keira Knightley, looking uncomfortable throughout) follows him, to see what all the sneaking's about. The central setpiece involves the bad guy (Branagh, liplessly grimacing) taking Ryan and his girlfriend out to dinner, of all things. It's a fantastic setup, but here as elsewhere, the execution is too broad, the tension is mishandled, and the action borders on the incoherent. Still, there are throwback pleasures to be had in the garish colors, ominously accented pronouncements, and moral certainties. Russians just make great bad guys. Kevin Costner luxuriates in the role of Ryan's fatherly handler. 2014.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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