Jack Ryan not exactly himself in ‘Shadow Recruit’

Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner, right) thinks Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is the kind of man the CIA needs in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit." (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Larry Horricks)

Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner, right) thinks Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is the kind of man the CIA needs in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” (AP Photo/Paramount Pictures, Larry Horricks)

By M. Scott Morris

Daily Journal

Once the action starts in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” it’s a race with a couple of devils to get to the end.

I got caught up in Ryan’s effort to save the United States from financial meltdown, as the seconds click down to an ominous deadline. If it’s a ride you’re after, “Shadow Recruit” will deliver.

My problems came when the movie was over, when my wife and I had time to coolly reflect on the film’s flaws.

Chris Pine plays Ryan, who was originally created by author Tom Clancy. Alec Baldwin played the character in “The Hunt for Red October,” and he was played by Harrison Ford for a pair of movies and Ben Affleck for one.

I mention the lineage to say this is a reboot, and Ryan’s supposed to be a Boy Scout and a genius, but he’s not supposed to be particularly slick.

In “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” he starts out as a good-natured, courageous guy, as he’s supposed to be. After Ryan’s injured in Afghanistan, Harper (Kevin Costner) recruits him to help the CIA hunt for international terrorists.

All of the sudden, it’s 10 years later, and Ryan can’t convince his former doctor and current live-in girlfriend, Cathy (Keira Knightley), to marry him.

He’s working on Wall Street and finds that Victor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) has made purchases that could be very bad for the United States.

It gets excting when Ryan flies to Russia, and the trip becomes more intense when Cathy flies over to surprise him.

In Russia, Ryan goes from genius bumbling good-looking do-gooder to a slick super spy. Cathy turns into a femme fatale, too.

Their transformations are great for the pacing of the movie, but they don’t exactly fit in the Jack Ryan canon.

The thing about “The Hunt for Red October” is it gives a sense that you’re privy to real government secrets. “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” goes into fantasy mode as soon as the plane sets down in Russia.

It’s a fast-paced, engaging fantasy, and Pine and Knightly have star power. Kevin Costner is Kevin Costner, which isn’t a bad thing, and Branagh, who also directs, makes a convincing villain.

If they’d called it “Bob Smith: Shadow Recruit,” I might have given it a better grade, but “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” gets a C plus.

It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville and Movie Reel 4 in New Albany.

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