In Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Chris Pine is the fourth actor to take on the role of Jack Ryan. He follows in the footsteps of Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck. In many ways the best has been saved for last. I have read most of the Tom Clancy books that used Ryan as the lead character and his is most like the image my mind conjured. Pine makes him a man who is handsome and heroic, intelligent and inspired.
Writers Adam Cozad and David Koepp have kept the flavor of Tom Clancy's writing while managing to place Ryan in an up to date situation. There is still the use of the Russians as the villains of the film, and there is tons of tension to ratchet up the plot. Clancy used the tension leading up to violence as his motif to keep the reader satisfied. Cozad and Koepp split the difference and have one sequence that is all tension and another that is all violence. Both manage to keep viewers riveted to the screen.
Pines' performance is dynamic even when he is transitioning from graduate student to war hero to CIA operative. He is a superman of sorts but he never loses his humanness in any way. And as strong as his performance is, the movie would not succeed if not for the supporting talent provided by Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh and Keira Knightley.
Costner has a scene where he is in full Navy officer dress and he goes all "No Way Out-ish" on us for the moment. He plays Jack's mentor at the CIA, Thomas Harper, and his droll attitude is the perfect antithesis of the action going on all around him. Branagh, who also directed the film, is perfect as the thin lipped Viktor Cherevin, the Russian who is plotting all the havoc.
Then there is Knightley who plays Dr. Cathy Muller, Jack's fiancée. In this movie she is neither some secret super agent who sweeps in and saves the day, nor the bland love interest who is on view as arm candy for the leading man. Knightley is such a presence and such a talent that she puts her stamp on the role of Cathy and makes her fascinating each time she appears on screen.
The film is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the only Jack Ryan film not based on a Tom Clancy book. Still the essence of that writer's signature character has been retained and the legend of Jack Ryan kept intact. With Pine on board as part of this new franchise it would appear to bode well for many future Jack Ryan adventures.
I scored Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit a developing 7 out of 10.