Running Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
A once-promising military career is cut short by a devastating injury when Jack Ryan’s (Chris Pine) helicopter is shot down in Afghanistan. During the grueling rehabilitation, Ryan is offered a new way to serve his country when he is approached by the CIA to become an analyst. He is covertly placed in a job with a Wall Street financial house where he can search for the ways that terrorists launder their money. Ten years of office work has quietly gone by when he stumbles across a Russian plot to devastate the value of the U.S. dollar in conjunction with a terrorist attack. Jack’s CIA contact Thomas (Kevin Costner) sends him to Moscow to audit the accounts of a billionaire with criminal ties (Kenneth Branagh) and suddenly Jack’s office job has deadly consequences. Things only get more complicated when Jack’s suspicious fiance Cathy (Keira Knightley) decides to surprise him in Russia and is pressed into action by Thomas and she becomes a target as well.
Aside from a few small things that strain the audience’s credulity (a man with a crippling back injury doing parkour and riding a motorcycle like a daredevil) I found Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit to be a really effective thriller. Anyone without a finance or economics degree may have trouble coming to grips with the nuts and bolts of the plot, but it came across as very timely. Real life has proved that a nation’s economy can be as unstable as a house of cards and economic terrorism looms large as an emerging concern.
Chris Pine is rare in that he is as believable as the number cruncher in the office as he is when he has to fight for his life against an assassin. Costner fits the role of the gruff mentor-figure to a tee and I only wish there was more of him in the movie. As big a Keira Knightley fan as I am, I found there to be surprisingly little chemistry between her and Pine until the scene shifts to Russia and the danger flips the switch and turns on the electricity. Lastly, the film moves briskly and there is very little time wasted on screen as it builds momentum and accelerates to a gripping finale. The film may have been mislabeled as an action movie when it is really a thriller, which ultimately hurt it on opening weekend. The box office receipts offer little hope of this spawning a franchise, but that is a shame because if nothing else, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was good and showed a lot of potential. B