Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)

(Netflix Streaming, December 2015) As someone who pretty much gave up on Tom Clancy after Teeth of the Tiger, I certainly took my time in watching Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, an attempt to reboot Clancy’s best-known character for a younger generation.  Derived from an original script that had nothing to do with Ryan, Shadow Recruit nonetheless ends up being a serviceable piece of entertainment, and one that does share a passing similarity to Clancy’s work.  While the film remains an action thriller in which Ryan gets to run a bit and savagely beat down an opponent along the way, it does have a pretty good sequence in which Ryan proves his analytical creds as “the smartest guy in the room”, and the film does hint at the kind of geopolitical machinations so well-executed in Clancy’s thriller.  Chris Pine is very likable as Ryan, and the broad strokes of his character are indeed those that Clancy gave to Ryan back in the eighties, updated to a post-9/11 generation.  Director Kenneth Branagh gets to have some fun by playing the bad guy, while Kevin Costner is unremarkable in a mentor role.  Still, Shadow Recruit is a reasonably entertaining thriller, despite a rather long introduction and the overall silliness of the scheme at the heart of the film (hint; the US dollar is a reserve currency.  It can’t be brought down by simplistic financial manipulation, and any attempt to maintain otherwise will be met by laughter by Canadians watching their dollar sink relative the USD).  While the box-office results suggest that the Clancy franchise won’t be rebooted, Shadow Recruit isn’t too bad as a standalone thriller – there have been far worse examples of the form lately.

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