Review: ‘Jack Ryan: shadow recruit’ (M) **

jack-ryan-shadow-recruitI CANNOT conjecture how Tom Clancy might have rated this film’s major changes to his fictional hero Jack Ryan who entered the world in book form in “The Hunt For Red October”, followed by the movie thereof and a regular flow of Ryan action thrillers in both media.

Despite their US-centric hubris, I enjoy Clancy’s books for their intelligent escapism. They are not sacrosanct but any attempt by a filmmaker to modify their fundamental premise needs to respect its origin.

This mish-mash of disrespectful writing by Adam Cosad and David Koepp and careless direction by Kenneth Branagh (who also plays Russian oligarch Cherevin planning a terrorism hit on Wall Street combined with financial manipulations that will bankrupt the US) begins with the WTC disaster then jumps a decade to Jack Ryan with a Ph.D. in economics recruited to the CIA by Harper (Kevin Costner). The time distortion is one thing. How the film handles Ryan’s assignment to visit Cherevin in Moscow to wheedle details of money-laundering is another.

We accept James Bond’s uniquely-flavoured credibility doing the same kind of thing as this film has Ryan doing. Chris Pine as Ryan and Keira Knightley as Cathy (they’re not yet married) move woodenly through a screenplay that struggles toward an outcome defined by the same old same old stuff so well-worn that improving on it is a real challenge.

At Dendy, Palace Electric, Hoyts and Limelight


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