- Action/Adventure, Drama, Thriller
- Running time
- 105 min
- Kenneth Branagh
- Screen writer
- Adam Cozad, David Koepp, based on characters created by Tom Clancy
- Chris Pine, Kiera Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh
- OFLC rating
- Yet to be classified
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Rated M, 105 minutes
Jack's back, rebooted and reborn with a new face (that of Chris Pine) and a new adventure set in Moscow, among his traditional enemies. Just because there's no Soviet Union doesn't mean we can trust the new Russkies.
He has hidden reserves of physical toughness.
Jack Ryan is an old school Cold Warrior, but he is also a remarkably resilient American hero, and nothing if not flexible. Pine is the fourth actor to play him, after Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears). He has been shot several times and nuked by a dirty bomb, but he looks younger every day.
Analytical: Chris Pine is the new face of CIA man Jack Ryan. Photo: Supplied
That's because, like James Bond, he is not bound by the usual temporal laws, nor the restricting chronologies of Tom Clancy's original books. According to these, Ryan was born in 1950 in Baltimore, which would make him around 63 at the start of this year. In this new movie, Jack is at least 35 years younger, studying at the London School of Economics when Al Qaeda attacks the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001. He joins the US Marines and is shot down in Afghanistan. Keira Knightley, as Cathy Muller, nurses him back to health after a broken back. Kevin Costner, as a CIA spymaster, recruits him for covert work on Wall Street. Ryan must be one of the few master spies who's also a Certified Practicing Accountant.
His job as compliance officer at Harman Bros is to spot the financial trails of those who would bring down America (not Wall Street shonks, but terrorists). One of these trails leads to Moscow, where Jack goes to investigate Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), the ruthless boss of a company with strong links to Harman Bros. Jack is soon up to his patriotic neck in trouble, and struggling to remember the small amount of tradecraft he learned 10 years earlier at Langley. ''I'm an analyst, not a field agent,'' he tells Costner, a line I seem to recall from each of the previous movies.
Reticence is one of Ryan's defining characteristics. He has an agile and analytical brain (hence the title, ''Dr Ryan'') and hidden reserves of physical toughness, but he's a reluctant spear. He was the late Tom Clancy's idea of the perfect American - tough as nails, smart as a whip, calm under pressure, slow to anger. Jack is conservative but not a neo-con; he is above the compromises of party politics, even if he does go on to become president in the books.
Clancy became a military expert and historian after he was unable to enlist, because of nearsightedness. From such setbacks, great characters are born, perhaps because they serve the writer's deepest needs. At least in his films, Jack Ryan became the thinking person's American hammer, after a series of dumbly violent and overly muscled ones, played by Arnie and Sly and little Chuck Norris. Jack has read a few books, at least.