Jack Ryan 5-Film Collection: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Jack Ryan 5- Film Collection: Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit


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Movie: :3stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :4stars:



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Movie

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.
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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit has a lot of things going for it. It has the fantastic Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley and even Chris Pine is a solid action lead. With decades of books to pull from Tom Clancy’s novels provide an enormous pool of resources to pick from, but instead our writers decided to make up an original origin story for the famous analyst. As a result we get a somewhat stilted movie that turns out to be a mixed bag of treats. I really liked Chris Pine in the role, and he played a good mixture of confused, out-of-his-league analyst turned action star, as well as Kevin Costner doing a very solid job as his handler. Keira Knightly was actually just passable here, putting on a very poorly done American accent that just got REALLY distracting after a while. It would have just been easier to have her be a Brit and use her native accent instead of trying so hard to cover it up with a poor American one.

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.




Rating:

Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language




4K Video: :4.5stars: Video: :5stars:
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It shouldn’t be a surprise, but being made years after the original films, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the brightest and shiniest of the bunch. Supposedly Paramount is using a 2K digital intermediate for the film, so this is another 2K to 4K upscale, but the results are shockingly good. Instead of being a huge massive upgrade over the already stunning Blu-ray, the 4K UHD disc is more of a textural and color based upgrade that just polishes what was already great on the Blu-ray. The film’s textures and colors really benefit from the HDR and Dolby Vision, giving us deeper blacks and a more natural color spacing that really benefits the blue color grading of the film. The scene at the end where Kenneth Branagh’s character is out amidst the fall leaves really shows some differing shades of orange, brown, and tans in a luscious bouquet of colors that shows even more detail than my old Blu-ray. Backgrounds and set pieces in the offices of Russian show finely nuanced details, with wood grain and stone backdrops looking incredible. There’s still some mild softness to the film, and some of the resolution based textures are not ALWAYS as sharp, but that’s to be expected from a film struck from a 2K digital intermediate. All around excellent.







Audio: :5stars:
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The audio is every bit as perfect as the video score is. Paramount has decided to give us a fantastic 7.1 DTS-HD MA track that just ripples with energy and life. I noticed that the track was recorded about 4 DB lower than most other DTS-HD MA tracks, but that is easily fixed with a turn on your receiver’s power knob, and matched with a meter to make sure. The best way of describing this track, from a layman’s point of view, is that it’s thick as split pea soup. And by “thick” I mean you feel like you’re in the middle of a dense wall of sound, as the surrounds, fronts, subs and center literally drown you and overwhelm you with layer after layer of sonic bliss. The dialogue is beautifully clear and locked straight up front, while the surround usage is aggressive and continuous. You can hear bullets whap into the wall behind you, the door to your left crash open with startling clarity and the score flows from all directions to meet you in the center of your listening environment. The dynamic range on this track is absolutely monstrous as you go from having Jack Ryan calmly talking at moderate levels, only to be interrupted by an action sequence that literally tears the walls down and leaves your house in rubble. The LFE is impressive, accurate and holy moley is it POWERFUL. The subs put out an solid throb throughout most of the film, underlying the entire track with a sense of power and depth, but when the action sequences kick into high gear that low throb turns into a wall of LFE that just slams you back into your seat and beats you around the head and shoulders till you cry for mercy.






Extras: :3stars:
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• Audio Commentary
• 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










Final Score: :4stars:


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.



Technical Specifications:

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
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 106 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 21st, 2018






Recommendation: Fun Watch

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Will catch it on amazon prime/netflix once available.
 

Todd Anderson

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This is one the series' weakest... the Best?

HFRO!
 

Michael Scott

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lol, I assume you liked it ??

I enjoyed it, but I guess I'm old school. I still think of Baldwin and Ford as the quintessential Ryan portrayal.
 

Todd Anderson

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No. I’m in your boat... with the best being The Hunt. But clear and Present and Patriot are solid fun in my book!
 
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