Critics' Corner: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Tom Clancy passed away in October of 2013 before he could see his final movie release. His character, Jack Ryan, should live on long after his passing. Clancyâ??s most famous protagonist, Jack Ryan was the subject of 5 movies dating back to 1990â??s "Hunt for Red October". This release, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" is a reboot of sorts; similar to what they did with James Bond when Daniel Craig took over the series. Itâ??s post 9.11 and Ryan is fresh out of college and fresh off of injuries sustained in Afghanistan. He is, in essence, a Jack Ryan for the 21st Century.

The movie is effective but slow going at first. We are muddling through a lot of back-story, information and character setup for most of the first part of the film. Fortunately though, Chris Pine; or the new Jack Ryan, is a gifted actor with lots of charisma and he makes the fish out of water story work. Just when you start to wonder when the espionage stuff is going to turn into what you paid the ticket price for, it does.

Once the spy world fully engulfs Jack Ryan, the movie becomes edge of the seat exciting with effective and realistic action. Thatâ??s the thing about Tom Clancy material; realism is the game and you wonâ??t see things like James Bond diving off a cliff to get into a falling plane or John McClane clinging to an F35 like Spiderman. This is real world action and this is the sort of stuff that the "Die Hard" movie creators seem to have forgotten to their own peril.

Kevin Costner, Kiera Knightley and Kenneth Branagh all add to the quality of the film. Branagh even did double-duty as director. Knightley was a standout to me though. While Branagh delivered the more excellent acting performance as the Russian terrorist Victor Cherevin, Knightley delivered the heart and soul of the film. It is the relationship between her character, Cathy Muller, and Ryan that delivers the reason to care.

Without emotional involvement, movies are pointless and that is what most action movies forget. "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" did not forget this. When Muller tells Ryan that they will go out to eat and split the check tonight; you care and you actually want to see it happen. It is this that makes the action scenes more perilous, vital and important. It is this that makes "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" a worthwhile contribution to Tom Clancyâ??s legacy.