Based on the character created by author Tom Clancy, 'Jack Ryan' is a geopolitical thriller set in the post 9/11 world.
While the previous films in the series were adapted from Clancy's best-selling novels,
is a reboot, which works as a prequel to the original Jack Ryan stories. In this one, Jack Ryan (Chris Pine), CIA's covert financial analyst, discovers a Russian conspiracy to destroy the American economy and must travel to Moscow to save his country. But it's not that easy when Russian Mogul Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), is at the helm of the attack. Who will win?
While the film is certainly not yawn-inducing and keeps the suspense level high, it fails to create its own identity. In spite of being fast-paced and sleek in terms of stunts, it looks like a generic action thriller, which seems to be made to keep the franchise going. We don't mind the 'lack of originality', as long as what you see onscreen is engaging enough.
The film does manage to capture attention in the beginning, but as it proceeds, the execution gets mediocre and what you end up seeing is a run-of-the-mill espionage thriller. While you crave to see the urgency, suspense and high-octane action that the Bourne series or Mission Impossible exhibit, here you get an uninspiring, one-dimensional film instead, which doesn't look real. The 'Russians as the bad guys' theme has been done to death. The protagonist conveniently dodges danger while the girlfriend (Keira Knightley) has nothing much to do, except for suspecting he's having an affair.
Chris Pine, known more for his looks than performance, does a decent job, but it's the regular direction and script which undo his effort. The background score works and (villain-cum-filmmaker) Kenneth Branagh does look vicious; unfortunately, the climax fails him too. Kevin Costner is wasted.
For avid fans of espionage thrillers,
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
is modestly watchable. For the rest, wait for something different.