Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Jack Ryan 5- Film Collection: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit
Paramount has really been on a roll lately with their big name catalog franchises. Transformers, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, Mission Impossible, Tomb Raider and now the entire Jack Ryan series in one big boxset. This time around I'm going to be doing something different. Instead of reviewing the boxset as a whole, I"ll be reviewing each individual film in the boxset (they're only available IN the boxset, not individually) so that you can compare and contrast the films in a more detailed manner. To start off the batch we're going to go backward and start with the latest reboot of the franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
The name is Ryan, Jack Ryan. You may have seen him before as a mild-mannered CIA analyst, but as with all things in this generation, characters get upgraded and calm, mellow type folks become ninjas with a license to kill. Honestly, I was not sure what to expect when I went into the theaters during January’s showing of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It had been over a decade since Ben Affleck’s poor attempt at being Jack Ryan, and many years since Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin made Tom Clancy’s iconic character leap off the pages and onto the silver screen (well, in my case onto a 13 inch tube TV when I was 9 years old). The results came off disappointing, as a long time Clancy fan. The action was your standard 10 million cuts per second filming, and they decided that Jack Ryan no longer needed to be a CIA analyst, but an analyst turned spy, turned James Bond (complete with his very own “first kill” scene in the bathroom, ala “Casino Royale”). As an action movie, it’s vanilla ice cream in a sugar cone. We’ve all seen them so many times that there was nothing new or exciting. It’s still a fun movie, but really, it’s cut from your standard action movie recipe book and starring the latest and greatest hunky action star of the year.
Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), watches the Twin Towers attack on the news and decides to join the Marines. While on a botched mission he ends up breaking his back and left with very little hope of recovery. Over 8 months later, he’s finally regaining his mobility when Jack is scouted by CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner), a man who knows raw talent when he sees it. Jack is an incredibly astute and perceptive man, which naturally leads him into the role of an analyst, where his skills are put to work on Wall Street, watching out for economic terrorism. Things are fairly humdrum: Jack is dating Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), the physical therapist who got him through his darkest hour, and handing off information to the CIA head honchos. That all changes when Jack notices a bunch of suspicious accounts, all leading back to one Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), a wealthy businessman in Russia. Suspicious of all these accounts, Jack is now tasked with going to Russia to inspect them under the pretense of a surprise “audit”.
Once in Russia, things turn south fast. Jack is attacked and nearly killed (although he handles the assassin like a pro) in his hotel room, only to find out that Viktor Cherevin has suspiciously sold all of the accounts before he had arrived. Smelling a rat, Jack has to find a way get in past the layers of security and find out what information Viktor has hidden behind those impenetrable walls. As with the plans of mice and men, things go awry in the form of Cathy showing up in Russia to surprise Jack. Thrust right into the middle of the game, Jack is forced to use Cathy as an asset to distract Viktor long enough for the CIA to get in and steal the information. What Jack uncovers will lead to a shocking revelation and a mad dash back to the U.S. to stop an attack that will level the U.S. to a third world country overnight.
The real downside here came from the writing. It was very obvious the writers wanted to modernize the story instead of going with the old Cold war novels of Clancy’s day. Instead of creating something new and unique, they tried to recycle the Old Russian bad guys, but just revamp their strategy to economic terrorism instead of your standard suicide bomber stereotype. Economic issues can be fun, and played well as a taut thriller, but action movies require something a bit more visceral to be taken seriously. As a result, the story suffered from not having a scary enough “threat” to really impact most people. The end scene with the truck and the bomb carried some of the flavor of those old tropes, but really seemed tacked on their just to have one final action scene. The movie is, of course, littered with shaky cam and 10 gazillion cuts per second in the fight sequences, which really just makes me long for the day when the camera stayed in focus for more than a microsecond and let you actually see what was going on.
My last gripe has to do with their need to make Jack Ryan a veritable James Bond. The Jack Ryan I know is very strong, very competent at his job, and even gets in quite a few scrapes, but his single-handedly taking out assassins, going in deep cover and then stunt driving a Ducati through downtown Manhattan in chase of a runaway bomb truck clashed with their efforts to try and display his more analytical side. It feels like they cut every scene out of the classic “action playbook” and just shoved them all together hoping for the best. Now, the results weren’t bad, they were just uninspired and well worn. The movie itself was a lot of fun and as long as you can disassociate this Jack Ryan with the Jack Ryan from Clancy’s books and the previous film incarnations; you’ll actually have a good time. When I saw the film theatrically I was massively disappointed due to extremely high expectations. This viewing was a much different experience since I had already had the shock of seeing such a drastically different take on the character, and I could just enjoy the movie for the action flick it is. Decent, but not great.
Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language
4K Video: Video:
• Deleted & Extended Scenes
• Old Enemies Return
• Jack Ryan: A Thinking Man of Action
• Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tzar of "Shadow Recruit"
• Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the Room
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a technically sound film, even though it doesn't manage to be nearly as fun as the previous four that came before it (even though barely just below Ben Affleck's Sum of All Fears), but it just rings a bit hollow. It's fun, but empty, fluff that explains just why this was the ONLY film in the reboot (even thought Pine was initially approached to be in several more sequels, before the box office killed it). I still enjoy the film on its own right, but have to separate the movie from the franchise, as I still think of Baldwin and Ford as being the quintessential Jack Ryans. The 4K UHD sports a marvelous looking encode (though it shouldn't be too hard to see why, the Blu-ray from 2014 was literally demo worthy) and even with the ported over 7.1 mix and extras from the Blu-ray, makes for a healthy upgrade over the 1080p disc. Recommended as a fun watch.
Starring: Chris Pine, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Written by: Adam Kozad, David Koepp
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, German, Spanish, French (Canadian), French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian DD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish
Runtime: 106 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 21st, 2018
Recommendation: Fun Watch