"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," the latest reboot of Tom Clancy's popular spy series, opens in theaters Friday. Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman filed the following report for NY1.
Jack Ryan, the superstar CIA analyst created 30 years ago by Tom Clancy, is now in his fifth motion picture, with a fourth actor playing him. I'm more than happy to see Chris Pine, so good as the hot-dog rebel Captain Kirk in the Star Trek films, take a whack at portraying a character previously embodied by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. Yet, after this revolving door of actors, almost nothing about Jack Ryan is very distinctive.
In the pulsating but colorless "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," he gets into fistfights and car chases, downloads information from computers, and skulks around looking tense and concerned. He might as well be called Generic Agent Guy.
The movie is - surprise! - a franchise reboot, and it rather awkwardly tries to jam Clancy's USA-vs.-the-Russkies paranoia into the post-9/11 world. Ryan starts off as a soldier in Afghanistan, where he catches the attention of a winkingly imperious CIA officer, played by Kevin Costner, who's in fine, dry form. A decade later, Ryan is an agency mole on Wall Street, and his snooping leads him to Moscow, where he uncovers a plot to drain the dollar of its value and launch a targeted attack on U.S. soil. Can you say big yawn?
The Bourne films have accustomed us to highly layered espionage plots, but in "Shadow Recruit," there's just one lone old-school Russian bad guy, played by Kenneth Branagh, who also directed the film. In the centerpiece sequence, Jack and his fiancée, played by Keira Knightley, go to dinner with Branagh's gimlet-eyed oligarch and trick him into letting his guard down.
Branagh did a nice job of directing "Thor," but about all he can do here is to energize the recycled pulp of the script. As Ryan, Chris Pine goes through the motions of saving the Western world with a swaggery concentration that keeps you watching. I just hope that in the next Jack Ryan outing, his charisma will have the added sheen that comes with being at least one step ahead of the audience.