Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is one of the better action-thrillers to come out since 2012’s Skyfall.
Star Trek‘s star Chris Pine portrays America’s boy scout, who flies to Moscow on a mission to stop the next 9/11. Coordinated with a devastating economic attack, the plan could bring down the United States.
Ryan must obtain hidden files from Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), the mastermind behind the looming attack. However, Ryan’s girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightly) becomes embroiled in the affair when she flies to Moscow unexpectedly, not knowing that Ryan is a C.I.A. operative.
Branagh pulls double duty here as the film’s director, and slowly turns the voltage up over the course of the film’s brisk 100 minutes. A struggle with a hitman inside Ryan’s hotel room generates excitement, although some cross-cutting with a maid working outside doesn’t quite work.
There’s an extended sequence in which Cathy must keep Cherevin occupied while Ryan sneaks into his office to acquire the files. It works as an exercise in sustained suspense, and there’s a touch of Notorious here in how a romantic interest is used as a pawn in a game of espionage.
This dovetails into not one, but two tense chase sequence, bridged by a scene showcasing Ryan’s detective skills as a data analyst. The action goes a hair over-the-top as Ryan pursues a suspect on a motorcycle, but it isn’t too outlandish.
Branagh likes to keep his camera moving, which energizes the film. There’s handheld work, but it’s disciplined. After several times at the helm of Shakespeare adaptations, Branagh proves himself as an unlikely but quite capable action director with solid technical skills, and Oscar-winner Martin Walsh brings urgent but unhurried cutting to the film. It’s a very watchable movie, and worth the trip to the cinema.