Shadow Recruit opens with Jack Ryan as a college student who after witnessing the tragic events of 9/11 decides to enlist in the military to help his country. Ryan quickly gets himself noticed and joins the CIA to help stop a forthcoming terrorist threat that could destroy the U.S. economy.
Shadow Recruit takes a completely different approach to the Jack Ryan franchise by making it more of an action movie than a spy thriller. The story isn’t too deep and the whole Russian terrorist just feels a little to cliché. For fans of the books or even older movies, Shadow Recruit will feel like a huge departure from the series and for those who are first being introduced to the franchise may feel like they stepped into a toned down Bond/Bourne movie. While the action keeps the movie going, the story just isn’t there to keep viewers invested.
Chris Pine does a fair enough job as Jack Ryan, but he just doesn’t seem to have the charisma to really carry the film. Keira Knightley is fun, bubbly, and sounds like she is struggling a bit to hold onto her American accent. Kevin Costner is a nice addition to the film but he mostly comes across as trying to collect a paycheck, though his character, Thomas Harper, is never really given much to work with. Kenneth Branagh does a wonderful job playing Viktor Cherevin, the evil Russian villain of the film. Viktor really is the only character in the film who really gets to shine as we see the many sides of Viktor and at times even sympathize with him. On the other hand we are never really given enough to sympathize with Ryan as he just seems to be so great at everything and usually has everything under control.
Shadow Recruit is a fun action film that will keep you entertained for an hour and a half, but it never really manages to pull off the great espionage action of the movies before it. Overall a fun watch if you are looking for a action film, but if you are looking for something intense or Tom Clancy then you may want to look else where.