The new thriller isn’t a sequel, and it isn’t based on a Clancy book. Written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp, this reboot is an origin story, with a younger Jack.
Rather than casting a fascinating, charismatic leading man — such as Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, who previously played the role — the filmmakers settled on Chris Pine, a good-looking guy who has been in a couple of hits.
At the outset, the movie flashes back to Ryan as an economics student in London during the 9/11 attacks. He volunteers for the Marines and is shot down. He recuperates with the help of pretty med student Cathy (Keira Knightley), and a CIA agent (Kevin Costner) shows up to recruit him.
He goes undercover, working on Wall Street, looking for bad-guy bank accounts. Present day, he finds one.
Not a total letdown, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is a mixed bag.
One good thing is Kenneth Branagh as Viktor Cherevin, an evil Russian banker right out of the 1980s. He chews and steals scenery better than any Clancy villain since Sean Connery in “The Hunt for Red October.”
The script, co-written by reliable pop veteran Koepp (“Jurassic Park,” “Mission: Impossible,” etc.), also is good. Lines about Turkish pipelines affecting the Russian economy make the movie sound semi-intelligent.
The bad stuff: Branagh, who also directed, seems bored by the pyrotechnics, chasing, shooting, running and jumping scenes, and shoots them in a colossal jumble.
When everything comes down to a single terrorist attack consisting of one guy, the showdown fight between the hero and the villain, both wearing black, is a pathetic, wobbly blur.
Happily, Branagh, an Oscar-nominated Shakespearian, is interested in actors, and he offers nice interactions between characters, such as a tense dinner designed to be a ruse.
A moment with Cherevin and the kidnapped Cathy is filmed in a long close-up, Cherevin about to torture her with a light bulb in her mouth, his face glaring a mere inch from hers.
But these moments of inspiration are too few. “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” feels like it should have applied for a desk job.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Starring Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner, Kenneth Branagh
Written by Adam Cozad, David Koepp
Directed by Kenneth Branagh
Running time 1 hour, 45 minutes