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"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" Review

Tom Clancy's storied protagonist Jack Ryan has had quite the checkered cinematic career as Alec Baldwin, who fronted The Hunt For Red October, was replaced with Harrison Ford for Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger before getting replaced by Ben Affleck for the political correctness-damaged Sum of All Fears which replaced the novel's Islamist bad guys for generic Euro-trash villains because political correctness. After a dozen years on the bench, Hollywood attempted to reboot the franchise with Chris Pine (Star Trek's Captain Kirk) in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and judging from the results, it may take another dozen years for anyone to care if they try again.

The reboot retcons Ryan's origin story by beginning with him as a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford when 9/11 happens. Like many patriots, he enlists in the War on Terror and gets seriously injured in Afghanistan when his chopper is shot down. While undergoing arduous rehab Stateside, he meets a pretty doctor (a worryingly thin Kiera Knightley) and is tapped by a CIA agent (Kevin Costner) to go back and finish his doctorate and work on Wall Street to sniff out the funding for terrorists.

While there he discerns irregularities in accounts between his firm and their Russian counterparts, so he's dispatched to Moscow to meet with in-no-way-totes-the-bad-guy Kenneth Branagh (who also directed) and hijinks ensue as Ryan tries to unravel a plot to crash the world's economy by shorting the dollar after a terror attack.

While there are a few moments of tricksy spycraft shenanigans, overall Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit plays as a 2nd-string generic spy thriller with little of the intricate intrigue that marks Clancy's novels. It's not egregiously bad, just dull and not engaging. Pine is a charming fellow, but he's doing too much Kirk schtick here and it doesn't fit.

Score: 4/10. Skip it.

One note about where to watch it on streaming: For some reason Netflix has a cropped 1.78:1 version like you'd see on HBO instead of the OAR of 2.40:1. Fortunately, if you have Amazon Prime, they have the correct version.


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