When it comes to restarts/re-casts, Batman and Bond have stiff competition in Jack Ryan. Tom Clancy’s best-known character is now on his fourth go-around since 1990’s The Hunt For Red October. The concept (maverick CIA agent chases down terrorists) is so familiar it probably doesn’t even require a pitch anymore.
But weak box office for Shadow Recruit suggests the property needs to be handled with more finesse and imagination. Attempting to do a Casino Royale, Kenneth Branagh’s film begins afresh but brings nothing new.
Following in Baldwin/Ford/Affleck’s footsteps, Chris Pine plays Ryan as an earnest CIA newbie who’s working undercover as a financial analyst on Wall Street, watching for suspicious trades and transfers that may serve as a tip-off for an impending terrorist attack.
Conveniently enough, that’s exactly what happens, and Ryan soon finds himself in Moscow, taking on Bolshevik baddie Viktor Cherevin (Branagh) who is tinkering with an insidious – and fairly nonsensical plot – to bring the US economy to its knees. It’s up to our conflicted hero to dodge an army of assassins and save the bank accounts of billionaires. Ho-hum.
On the plus side, Kevin Costner oozes relaxed authority as the CIA vet/father figure and there’s some impressive mayhem in the third reel. But on balance SR is bland, by numbers and about as edgy as looking at Facebook. Which, incidentally, is one of the plot points.
Branagh and producer Lorzeno di Bonaventura co-commentate on the film and some quickie deleted scenes; the rest is featurettes that – perhaps unwisely – remind us of Ryan’s past cinematic lives.
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