Friday 31 January 2014

Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Year: 2014
Director: Kenneth Branagh  
Screenplay: Adam Cozard, David Koepp
Starring: Chris Pine, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightly

Synopsis is here:

I’m guessing some people are considering Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit as a return to the old school. Well, fair play to them. Despite what my friends sometimes think, I do like to take in the thoughts of others. However when it comes to my view on the film (which I keep calling it Shadow Agent, such is the generic title), I found it to be a cornucopia of cliché which will most likely be forgotten in a blink of an eye. Then again that’s what people want right? How dare people have high expectations for a spy thriller. They should be farted out with no distinction at all, right?

Jack Ryan may have nabbed a little from  the likes of Bourne, but it’s taken a lot more from older, more typical spy jaunts. You can see this by the vast amount of times super secret items are passed covertly between people. If you were to make this a drinking game, you could be so inebriated that you’d forget the first 2 acts.

Then again, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit also struggles with the idea of lasting effects.  Our dear Mr Branagh may state that Chris Pine’s Jack is no superhero, but trust me we get a Jack Ryan who performs near impossible feats with a near broken back and is hopping skipping and jumping better than Mario during a Bowser level. Emotional depth fares no better, but then again the limp arguments that Ryan (a spirited but slumming Pine) faces with his wife Cathy (an anonymous Knightly) come across as vague and ineffectual despite their intent.        

The only thing that remains in the mind is the idea that it’ll be those nasty Russians that will cause America’s “2nd Great Depression”. After watching how Wolf of Wall Street dissect the type of near psychotic excess that help take a dent out the western world from within, to state that it’s those pesky Red’s who be causing financial grief because of cold war flash backs, seems more than a little rich.

Sparring with the old enemy may be the only thing to spark interest in a film which is dedicated to keeping one foot in the grave, but the cold war memories also hint the issue with not only Jack Ryan, but one or two of the more recent entries of the spy genre. Do we really need a Jack Ryan now?  A spy all jazzed up for a younger audience who probably have little care for the Cold War? While an older audience may have the knowledge to check out older features that don’t seem so slight and forgettable?

The film’s disappointing box office has still managed limp into the black, so it won’t surprise me if we see another entry in the Jack Ryan series. Although money made doesn’t mean movie enjoyed, there appears to be enough greenbacks behind this to nudge an executive into action. I’m guessing I’m once again in the minority asking why.