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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Starring: Chris Pine, Keira Knightly, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh, Gemma Chan, David Paymer (Rated M – 105 min).

One of the greatest thrillers ever filmed The Hunt for Red October (1990) introduced me to CIA operative analyst Jack Ryan as played by Alec Baldwin. Since then, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck have both had a go in the role in stories from the books of late author Tom Clancy. Frankly, Affleck was underrated in The Sum of all Fears (2002), unfortunately no one else agreed and was considered a flop. The latest incarnation of the almost extinct film series, or what the producers prefer to call it, reboot, is never boring but after the incredible Skyfall, secret agents have a lot to live up to on the silver screen.

Fresh from successfully portraying Captain Kirk in the Star Trek ‘reboot’, Chris Pine is now back on earth fighting the bad guys as Jack Ryan. The deadly opening stanza has Ryan bustling with thugs attempting to dispatch him from a Moscow hotel. He looks scared, all darting eyes and open mouth, but you just know he’s trained to kill despite hesitancy. Going into flashback mode when Ryan was in the marines, his helicopter goes down smashing his lower spine. Learning to walk again, a gorgeous medical student (Keira Knightly) takes it upon herself to comfort him managing to hold out from asking him on a date until full recovery.

Skipping ahead to his CIA recruitment by legendary Agent William Harper (Kevin Costner) he is chosen for a highly classified assignment, of course, to locate a nasty Russian villain. Kenneth Branagh directs this stylised patchwork monstrosity and also stars as Viktor Chererin. A stock standard global domineering libertine who has bought up big in US Bonds, then orders an attack on America after which he intends to sell the bonds back, thus making a killing on Wall Street.

I could almost hear my IQ dropping, it is a challenge to process this stupid story while watching but I was certainly never bored. The action sequences redeem this film from total abomination, particularly a chase with Ryan aboard a Ducati are dazzling. The drama however is another story, a talent and adorable Keira Knightly is best at period dramas (Atonement) and romantic fodder (Love Actually). Her faltering accent is the least embarrassing thing in this. Her on screen chemistry with Chris Pine tips the scales at zero, he had a better connection with the runaway train in Unstoppable.

Shane A. Bassett

Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.