HUB Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Story posted April 3, 2014 in CommRadio by Sofia Westin

“You think this is game, Jack?”

No, but neither is grammar.

One of this week’s HUB movies is Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Jack Ryan (Chris Pine from Star Trek and This Means War), a CIA analyst who lives the quiet side of the spy world, is brought to the forefront when he discovers a terrorist plot against the United States by none other than Mother Russia (what a surprise).

The plot: to destroy the U.S. dollar, its market, as well as the world economy (but Russia is not part of that world).

Ryan’s opponent is Russian tycoon Viktor Cherevin, played by Sir Kenneth Branagh (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hamlet). It is his quote that I have above. The quote, said in a very thick Russian accent, is meant to be quite frightening. Does it succeed? Not really.

Ryan is a character based on Tom Clancy’s spy books about the agent of the same name. The title role has been played by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck in the past. This movie is not based on one of Clancy’s books, which usually dealt with battling the U.S.S.R.  An adaptation of one may be a miss because they are a little outdated since the Cold War is over, though Russia is still seen as the pinnacle of evil apparently.

The movie received mixed reviews from audiences and critics alike. IMDb users gave it a 6.5, Metacritic a 57, and RottenTomatoes top critics gave it a 50, making it a rotten movie.

On the Penn State Scale...

1—when Penn State loses a game, 
2—an 8 a.m class (which are awful),
 3—a canceled 8 a.m class, 
4— free textbooks, 
and 5—free Creamery ice cream for a whole year...

I’m giving this a 3. The happiness is there for a while until it is over. Then you carry on with your life.

Sure, Shadow Recruit is not really such a great spy movie that we have seen in the past, such as the Mission Impossible franchise, the James Bond franchise, the Bourne Trilogy, Spy Game, amongst others. 

However, it does offer some typical elements that make the movie exciting: the fighting scenes, the chase, the explosions, the bad guy, the seemingly impossible scenarios and the dry, cold humor of a spy.

The acting is good. The music is phenomenal.

What is a hit and miss may be the fact that this is an economical attack—Ryan talks some Wall Street jargon that I don’t really understand. Because this evil plot is the main conflict, it is kind of important that we understand what is happening and what could happen should the bad guys win (which they never do, so the threat is not that terrifying after all).

That is what I mean when I say the acting is good: the good guys actually seem scared of the fact that the bad guy will win, which he doesn’t. Spoiler alert?

Thusly, plot could have been better.

This is supposedly the first in a Ryan reboot (and it wasn’t based on a Clancy book about Ryan), so hopefully the second one will be better (hint: adapt a Clancy book about Ryan).

*This movie will show on Thursday at 10 p.m., and on Friday and Saturday it will show at 8 p.m. Saving Mr. Banks will be shown on Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.

Sofia Westin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email