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Movie Review

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence and intense action, and brief strong language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Genre:
Action Adventure Thriller Drama Reboot Prequel
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2014
USA Release:
January 17, 2014 (wide—3,000+ theaters)
DVD: June 10, 2014
Copyright, Paramount Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures Copyright, Paramount Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Paramount Pictures

terrorism

Featuring: Chris PineJack Ryan
Keira KnightleyCathy Muller
Kevin CostnerThomas Harper
Kenneth BranaghViktor Cherevin
Lenn Kudrjawizki … Constantin
Alec Utgoff … Aleksandr Borovsky
Peter Andersson … Dimitri Lemkov
Elena Velikanova … Katya
Nonso Anozie … Embee Deng
Seth Ayott … Teddy Hefferman
Colm Feore … Rob Behringer
more »
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Producer: Paramount Pictures
Skydance Productions
more »
Distributor: Paramount Pictures

“Trust no one”

Jack Ryan was always considered a financial wizard. In fact, he went to a famous economics school in London. One day at school, though, he watches clips as the Twin Towers fall in New York City. It is at that moment he is determined to serve his country.

Flash forward two years. Jack serves as a private in the Marines. On a deployment to Afghanistan, though, his helicopter is ambushed. While recovering at the army medical center, he is offered an opportunity to serve in the C.I.A. as a financial analyst—undercover in Wall Street for a finance company to keep track of world-wide trading.

One day he notices something is off about several accounts he keeps track of. As he points out, “The U.S. Dollar is going up when it should be going down” and is suspicious of terrorist activity. He then flies to Moscow to visit a Mr. Victor Cheverin to gather information on the company’s activity. What he discovers, however, goes beyond finances. It’s up to Jack Ryan, CIA operative, to stop the terrorists from causing world chaos.

“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” reminds me a lot of the “Mission: Impossible” films, minus the extreme amounts of action. While “Shadow Recruit” certainly has its moments of heart-pounding action, it is more of a political thriller. “Shadow Recruit” fails to live up to the standard of an action movie. As a political thriller though, “Shadow Recruit” excels in every area. The problem I have with this film, and perhaps this film is too complex for myself, is that unless you are familiar with geo-politics or the field of finances, parts of this film may go over your head.

While this may have detracted some of my appreciation for “Shadow Recruit,” I have to say I still enjoyed this film very much. It’s well written, suspenseful and full of excellent performances from Kevin Costner, Chris Pine, and Keira Knightley (who always impresses me, even during her earlier “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise). As I said, while it’s definitely not as action packed as a “Mission: Impossible” film, it still has that same level of complexity, and still serves as a thriller. For that, I applaud “Shadow Recruit.”

Violence: Violence is limited but still present in “Shadow Recruit.” There are some fight scenes, shootings, a couple scenes where people are stabbed. As mentioned, we watch as Ryan’s helicopter is ambushed. Ryan kills an enemy by suffocating him under water. There are also a couple car crashes. That’s about the extent of the violence though.

Profanity: The profanity count is as follows: h*ll (2), G*d-d**nit (2), f*ck (1), b*tch (1), sh*t (1), bull-sh*t (1), sh*t-hole (1), God’s name is used in vain twice and Jesus’ is used five times.

Sex/Nudity: Very limited. In the beginning of the film, we see Knightley’s character in a towel. Ryan and his girlfriend are seen in bed together (sex is implied but not shown), and Ryan and his girlfriend share a couple of kisses.

Other: After the helicopter attack, Ryan is shown with his face covered in blood. One character is shown drawing his own blood. Cheverin makes a comment to Ryan about his girlfriend being in Ryan’s hotel room as a “dirty secret.” There’s also a drug scene where we see Ryan, undercover, taking Percecet with a glass of wine.

The theme that really stuck out to me came in a scene about halfway into “Shadow Recruit”—involving Ryan’s girlfriend discovering that he is in the CIA. Before she finds out, though, she is concerned that Ryan did not trust her enough, given the love they have for each other. Trusting God also comes with this difficulty. It’s easy to think that we have all the control and be hesistant to allow God to take control. I know I certainly struggle with this every day. Trusting God is never an easy feat, but it’s worth it.

“Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit” is a well written, well performed spectacle of a film. While it may not be the most action-packed movie I’ve encountered, it certainly serves a purpose as a well-rounded intense political thriller. Fans of this genre will definitely want to see “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” I only recommend it to teens and adults though. Well worth the price of admission.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—This entertaining spy thriller can be recommended for its lack of pornography and minimal profanity, some of which (J… H. C…) could be excused as a brief prayer: Ne 2:1-4 “… what should be done?” the king asked. With a quick prayer… I replied… The editing and cinematography are very good, and the script is clever with some comic relief. It contains a typical level of violence, but avoids gore and only shows blood in the war scene. It extols the virtues of love, both romantic and patriotic.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Brian Schacht, age 67 (Canada)
Positive—This is definitely an action thriller. I was exhausted at the end, but enjoyed the movie, overall. Chris Pine and Kevin Costner were excellent. There is very limited blood and sexuality, but unfortunately a couple of instances where the Lord’s name was used inappropriately. The movie does stress patriotism and fidelity. Overall, I recommend the movie to older teens and adults.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—C. Nelson, age 53 (USA)
Positive—“Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit” is an interesting movie. It does keep your attention and it does have several things going for it I value in a movie: intrigue, romance and a little good conversation. With action not quite as spectacular (and unbelievable) as the action in James Bond movies, Jack Ryan does have its thrilling chase moments, including the obligatory scene that shows not only is he magnificently talented but his motorcycle riding skills (sans helmet) are spectacular too.

The movie's writers know how to make you care for Jack. From the very first of the movie, you are rooting for him. There were a few things I didn't like about the movie. It does have some cursing in it but thankfully, most of the cursing was done by one person and gotten over with pretty quickly. But there was your typical liberal bias in the movie that almost caused me to laugh out loud in the theater as I beheld the hypocrisy of the movie makers. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Regina Russell, age 57 (USA)
Positive—Added all together there is only brief content objection by my wife and I. Good story line. Could have went a bit deeper in the character development of Jack. For us, just the right amount of action scenes. We have come away disappointed in most films that are wall to wall, in your face action scenes that just go on and on. We will view it again at home when it becomes available!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Wayne G, age 58 (USA)
Positive—Very good movie. Thing I liked about it was it was suspenseful as it built the storyline but not too much crazy action the whole time; then, when it took off, it was an edge of the seat movie! No sex, few swear words, some drugs and alcohol and few Lord’s names in vain, which is so point less. I did like how they can have movies with no sex and hardly any cuss words. The suspense was very much like “24,” and the end is crazy!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Stephanie, age 39 (USA)
Positive—I’ve been looking forward to this motion picture for months, being a huge fan of Keira Knightley, Kevin Costner and, of course, Kenneth Branagh (who directs and co-stars as the villain). The financial parts went somewhat over my head, and the English spoken by the Russians was hard to understand, but maybe that was the point. I understood most of what Cherevin said in English, though not all of it. However, that did not detract from my enjoyment of this well-written motion picture.

The acting was pitch-perfect, as Ms. Knightley, Mr. Costner and Mr. Branagh are established actors, and their body of work speaks for itself. Special mention goes to Ms. Knightley and Mr. Branagh for doing spot-on American and Russian accents (Mr. Branagh even speaks Russian, and does it perfectly).

Biblically speaking, there is intense action, including but that’s only 20% of the picture. Most of it is exposition and suspense, and the sequences are done very well. There’s not a lot of language, and contrary to what another Christian site says, each of the four leads do NOT profane God’s Name. That only comes from Mr. Pine (twice) and Colm Feore (who has a minor role in this reboot, having had a major role in the previous Jack Ryan film “The Sum of All Fears”). Ms. Knightley and Mr. Branagh do not profane the Names of God or Jesus; in fact, they don’t curse or swear at all in the film, which is commendable. Sensuality is limited to a brief flashback scene, which is crucial to the plot. I highly recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 27 (USA)
Positive—This reinvention of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan was a very clever way to bring back the political/spy thriller genre. It did a great job of depicting the rise of Jack Ryan that is written about or alluded to in some of Tom Clancy’s books. It also didn’t delve too deep into the muck/reality that Tom Clancy chose to insert into some of his later books. Those who have read Tom Clancy will have a much easier time of understanding some of the nuances that other commentators listed as missing in the movie. Overall, I felt this was a fairly well sanitized (not completely) movie for what they wanted to portrait.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Nate, age 40 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I agree with the review, not a bad movie for entertainment value, but, at the same time, I think the first one was much better. The storyline was predictable. Acting was fair to good - not great. The action/fight scenes were typical for this genre. Overall, just an average movie. Probably be happier if you wait for it to be released on DVD. I can't think of anything overly offensive. There is some language and somewhat grapic fight scenes, but nothing over the top, in my opinion.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Kevin, age 49 (USA)

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