Friday, 31 January 2014


There's surely not enough room in the film industry for films like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. A Jason Bourne knock-off that's several years too late, it's a boring corporate thriller with boring characters and a deficit of style. Kenneth Branagh never was one to imbue his films with much subtlety or depth of tone, but what he has normally ensured filled those gaps somewhat was a sense of fun. This dour, rote exercise in mid-level franchise fare is only intermittently fun, and always as if by accident. It's too serious in its seriousness, too straightforward, too sure of the magnitude of its dreary, dated plot. With Mr. Average himself, Chris Pine, as the cinema's least worthy protagonist (he only actually develops a character when affecting severe inebriation, and even then it's an aggravating character), and a supporting cast of actors in dire need of something to actually do, it's a bizarrely glum film that seems to take forever to achieve anything. When it does, it's not where you'd expect it: Branagh proves himself a decent director of the obligatory action (or at least active) set-pieces. The film noticeably picks up the pace and one's attentions thusly, and for once you might wish less time had been spent on developing character and plot (since neither need / receive much anyway) and more on the naff car chases and over-edited bits where lots of people loudly and urgently say lots of important things. Though Ken could have been a touch less heavy-handed with the sudden sound effects and jump moments... Kevin Costner stars as some guy who recruits Jack into the CIA, and Keira Knightley really tries with her American accent as the girlfriend he utterly does not deserve, but who of course stands by him through everything, because this is the movies.