Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review

This January has brought the character of Jack Ryan back to the big screens for the fifth time. If you are unfamiliar with the character of Jack Ryan, allow me to briefly explain. Author Tom Clancy wrote a series of nine books that featured the character Jack Ryan, who comes to work for the CIA. Four of these books have been turned into movies. Starting in 1990 we had The Hunt For Red October. 1992 brought us Patriot Games. Following this two year trend, Clear and Present Danger came out in 1994. Then Hollywood waited eight years before bringing us the fourth installment, The Sum of All Fears in 2002. Generally speaking these movies are fairly well liked, except for maybe the last one, and did good business at the box office. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit falls quite a bit short of its predecessors.

There were several red flags for me before going in. First, it was a reboot of the franchise. Sure, that works out many times, but other times it fails. Second, it was the first Jack Ryan book that was only based on the characters and not an adaption of a specific book. That's pretty risky. Third, it had Chris Pine and Keira Knightley as the leads. I'm not a huge fan of either. And finally, it had a January release date. that told me that they didn't have too much confidence in their movie. All the others were released in big movie months.

Nevertheless, I went into the movie with an open mind, hoping to enjoy it. However, my fears about the movie quickly were proven to be legit concerns. This movie wasn't that good. Starting right at the top of my concerns, rebooting this franchise was a mistake. Right along with that, creating their own story instead of basing it off of one of the five remaining books also was a mistake. The movie spends a lot of time at the beginning setting up the character of Jack Ryan. And actually, according to the background of the character, they follow things pretty well. It just seemed choppy, boring, and forced to me. We start with the September 11th attacks that inspires Jack to join the military. Ok cool. Then we get his helicopter accident that leaves him completely messed up. Also done well. Then things get complicated. We jump into the near future and Jack Ryan can't walk, but he has no scars whatsoever. That seemed a bit odd. Then Kevin Costner is talking to him about joining the CIA. That kind of came out of nowhere as concerning this specific reboot. Sure, we knew it had to happen. But it felt forced. Then we jump ten years into the future and for some reason no effort was made at all to make any character look ten years older. And then suddenly we were on a mission to Russia. It was all forced, messy, and boring.

Then of course we had red flag number three. Chris Pine and Keira Knightley. Who made the decision to cast those two? I'm sure Chris Pine was cast because of the success he had as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. Seemed like a sure fire thing that he would also carry this movie to success? I'm sorry, he just wasn't a very convincing Jack Ryan. For the record, I also didn't like him as Captain Kirk. In fact, my favorite part of Star Trek Into Darkness was when Benedict Cumberbatch was beating the heck out Chris Pine. So maybe it's just me, but I think there were a lot of better choices that could've played Jack Ryan and made this movie a success. Onto Keira Knightley. I know there had to be a girl. That follows the Jack Ryan background, but Keira Knightley had zero chemistry with Chris Pine and thus her character just got in the way. The relationship was forced. It just happened as if they did it only because they had to do it. No tension, either, until the jumped ten years in the future and suddenly after living together for ten years Chris Pine can't be honest to her about the fact that he saw a movie. Forced.

Was this movie a complete failure? Well no. The main aspects of the movie were really messy like I have mentioned, but there were some saving features. While our lead roles were bad, a couple of the secondary roles were fantastic. I'm mainly speaking about Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh. Coster is good in just about every role he's in. Even in movies like Man of Steel that were a complete disaster, he did good in the role he was given. Such is the case here. Also, Kenneth Branagh doubles as the director of the movie and the villain of the movie. It really showed that he cared about this movie as he did an excellent job as the villain. Also, despite the plot not making a ton of sense and feeling forced, there were several scenes in the last half of the movie that at least were entertaining to watch. I give that some kudos. But in the end, this is a pretty messy that puts shame into the great Jack Ryan name. My grade for it is a 6.5 out of 10.

No comments:

Post a Comment