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Published January 29, 2014

Ah, the Australian summertime; a time of barbecues, beers, and the beach. But if – like me – you forgot to take the time to get your body bikini ready, and also burn quite easily, an escape to the cool confines of your local cinema may be just what the doctor ordered. Also, it was the hottest week on record the other week, so even looking outside made me feel sticky. It’s SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER SEASON!

Kenneth Branagh has stepped up to the plate with Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the fifth on-screen adventure for the character created by Tom Clancy who sadly passed away in October of last year. Chris Pine plays the titular role, following Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck, although unlike his predecessors this is an original story, rather than an adaptation.

rsz_jack-ryan-shadow-recruitJack Ryan is an economics student, studying abroad when news of September 11 breaks. At once he signs up as a U.S. Marine, serving in Afghanistan, until his platoon’s helicopter is shot down, critically injuring him. While in rehab, he attracts not only the attention of med student Cathy (Keira Knightley), but CIA agent Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner). Harper, impressed by his ability to recognise complex patterns, recruits him, sends him back to complete his PhD, and sets him up undercover on Wall Street looking for evidence of suspect financial transactions that would indicate terrorist activity.

When – a decade later – the Russian Federation loses a key vote before the United Nations, and the market fails to act as expected, he discovers that through shady dealings the U.S. Economy is being entirely held up by a secret Russian investment, traceable back to Viktor Cheverin (Kenneth Branagh), a Cold War survivor and veteran of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Under the pretext of an audit, Jack is sent in undercover, and discovers a terrorist plot that could result in a new Great Depression.

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUITI won’t say anything more about the plot, but it’s everything you’d expect; tense confrontations between the two, conversations laced with subtle, double meaning, a climactic car chase and bomb timer ominously counting down to destruction. It’s not breaking new ground, but after you settle into the head-space for it, it’s entertaining, pop-corn munching action. Ryan isn’t Bond by any stretch, with the reluctant everyman making a nice distinction from similar films, but…it’s the idealised, Hollywood style “everyman” – it’s Chris Pine, after all.

The film doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t, and I see a future where many invite their friends over for a beer and DVD night, and have great fun watching. It’s just a good, solid action film, with no pretense.


  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is based on the character created by Tom  Clancy, directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also stars alongside Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Keira Knightley. Screenplay by Adam Cozad and David Koepp. Not starring Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford or Ben Affleck.


  • Popcorn-munching Summer Action.


  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is screening now in cinemas.

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