Welcome to the winter drought of movies! January almost never has any wide releases worth seeing but is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit the exception? I didn't have too high of expectations for this reboot of the Tom Clancy character knowing that the film was originally slated to open with all the big holiday films...but then somehow got pushed back a month. And not just ANY month. The gap between December and January couldn't be bigger movie wise How can a movie go from being released in one of the most coveted months to perhaps the LEAST coveted? I figured the studio didn't have much faith in the film and that it was likely mediocre. To my surprise, I found it to be a perfectly pleasant and entertaining action film! But on the other hand as time went on...I found it also happened to be entirely forgettable.
I'll be honest. This isn't particularly my favorite genre. Not because I don't find these CIA/FBI/spy movies entertaining...they just usually tend to be pretty generic and hard to tell apart from one another. To make films like these stand out from the rest of the pack you need 2 things. 1. Style 2. A dynamic and memorable lead. Sadly I think this film didn't have much of either. I do happen to enjoy Chris Pine (and feel he is a great lead in Star Trek,) but the character's personality only really got to shine in a handful of scenes....not nearly enough to stay with you.
And can we talk about Keira Knightley for a moment? What on earth was the point of having her character be an American? It would be perfectly believable for him to have met a British girl since you know the first scene is set in Britain. She manages okay, but it was pretty jarring to me seeing that British face speaking anything other than her usual lovely voice. It would be interesting to see someone not acquainted with her watch this...but I'm really not sure how far you would have to travel to find said person. It's a small gripe to be sure, but I admit I thought it was distracting. Other than that, her performance was fine enough.
Jack Ryan is blessed to feature a pretty solid cast besides Knightley and Pine. Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh (who also directs) do their part too to keep this film moving. And move it does. It's definitely on the shorter side and for that I'm grateful. I also have to admit I'm not as acquainted with the character as I should be, so I might not be the best authority on whether or not this is a good Jack Ryan movie. The only one I remember seeing was 2002's The Sum of All Fears....but found that too to be pretty forgettable as well. Maybe if I had seen the 90's films I would have more of an opinion of how Shadow Recruit is as an entry in this series, but for now I can only speak for its merits as an action film. Bottom line: if you wanna be entertained and kill a few hours at the cinema you could certainly do worse. It's a pleasant enough action flick... just don't expect this to stay with you. EMILY RATING: 6.5/10