Author Tom Clancy's fictional character Jack Ryan is back on the big screen with a bland and generic quality to him in Shadow Recruit.
The latest installment of the spy-movie franchise, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, hits theaters on Friday, Jan. 17 and stars Chris Pine in the titular role of the CIA analyst-turned-operative. Kevin Costner plays Ryan's intelligence boss, Keira Knightley is Ryan's suspicious fiancée and director Kenneth Branagh appears as a villainous Russian banker.
The film, not based on a book by the acclaimed espionage writer but rather his leading character, is about Ryan uncovering a Russian plot to crash the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack. The same character was previously played by Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears), Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October) and Harrison Ford (Clear and Present Danger).
The beat-the-clock, save-the-day theme in Shadow Recruit is nothing new and despite best efforts by the cast members to swoon audiences, they give lackluster performances. Audiences wait for them to do or say something interesting, and they are still waiting when the credits roll.
Even with the beauties of Moscow serving as a backdrop and Pine's aquatic blue eyes not being hard to stare at, the allure of the spy game quickly disappears.
Knightley brings a sympathetic edge to Cathy, Costner is dreary as an agency mentor and Pine picks up the pace only around the point where the plot to destroy America is finally revealed, which is too late in the film for him to start acting like a spy hero.
There is also a confusion that stirs when one scene moves on to the next while leaving questions unanswered and audiences feeling perplexed. What exactly is this character talking about? What is going on? Why do I feel the urge to turn to the person next to me and ask them those exact questions?
Shadow Recruit tries to be a modern thriller with its focus on technology and different gadgets that help prevent a terrorist attack from potentially destroying lower Manhattan. However, I refuse to call it an action film due to the fact that there was barely any action sequences involved.
As much of an oxymoron as this sounds, Shadow Recruit is an uneventful drama. There are not even impressive fight scenes -- fists are thrown five minutes in a hotel room toward the start of the film and another 10 at the movie's conclusion.
Granted, writers Adam Cozad and David Koepp compensated with an ample amount of suspense that draws you in. Arms were intertwined like a double helix during the movie screening, hands were held and I was biting my nails, even though I do not typically bite my nails. They get applause for that.
The film may raise anxiety levels for some, but mere suspense is not enough to make it Oscar worthy.