“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is a first-rate spy thriller that keeps you riveted and on the edge of your seat without bathing you in blood and flaunting sexuality.
The film opens with a quick look at what leads young Jack Ryan, played by Chris Pine, to join the U.S. Marines and his service in Afghanistan. A rocket attack takes down Ryan’s helicopter and our hero is left with injuries that threaten permanent paralysis. This is when, during his lengthy rehab, Jack meets two people who will change his life.
First, a beautiful medical student, Cathy Muller, played by Keira Knightley, helps with his recovery and ultimately becomes his girlfriend.
Second, he meets Thomas Harper, played by Kevin Costner. Harper is a covert CIA operative who has noticed Ryan’s courageous recovery. Harper tells Ryan that he can best serve his country by getting his doctorate., going to work on Wall Street and watching for suspicious money movement that could be funding terrorism.
The die is cast and Ryan is in the CIA.
Sure enough, Ryan notices a pattern of money transfers that require him to go to Russia to thwart an insidious plot to bring down the American economy. This is where we are introduced to Viktor, quite chillingly played by Kenneth Branaugh, who also directs the film. He’s a man with demons and is dead set on “making America bleed.”
Guess who shows up in Moscow to surprise her lover? You’ve got it, Muller. This is where she learns that Ryan is in the CIA and is actually relieved because his strange behavior had her thinking perhaps he was having an affair. Of course, she gets drawn into the plot and ends up charming Viktor, who has a weakness for vodka and women, giving Ryan just enough time to, perhaps, save the nation.
At one particularly tense moment in the film, I looked around and everyone was riveted to the screen and practically holding their breath.
Does “Shadow Recruit" deliver up some predictability and even some cheesy moments? Certainly. But, amidst all the stereotypes, car/motorcycle/foot chases, old-timey patriotism and, yes, a slice or two of cheese, there’s a really fun and entertaining movie here.
“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” gets three stars and is rated PG-13.