THE BLOG

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - The Review

03/02/2014 11:59 GMT | Updated 04/04/2014 10:59 BST

Contains spoilers

Is there a clear and present danger of any Jack Ryan-related gags here?

No, so stop there.

Okay. Are Cliff Richard and Hank Marvin in it?

No, it's not that sort of Shadow

How about members of an alien invasion task force?

No, that's Shado from UFO.

So, is it any good?

It's not bad. Chris Pine ticks all the boxes as the fourth big screen incarnation of Tom Clancy's CIA analyst. Kevin Costner is excellent as his mentor; Keira Knightley gives a good American accent, and director Kenneth Branagh is solid as the villain.

What's it about?

Within the first few minutes, London-based student Ryan learns of 9/11; as a second lieutenant Marine is shot down and wounded in Afghanistan; falls for medical student Cathy Muller (Keira) and is recruited by the CIA as a Wall Street analyst/deep cover agent. Or something.

Jack then investigates dodgy financial dealing, heads for Moscow to expose bad guy Viktor Cherevin (Branagh) and ends up in a cat and mouse game.

Are there any ticking time bombs in it?

Afraid so. Though the LCD display makes a change from the usual red LED countdown.

How about a Mission Impossible/Iron Man style scene where the hero has to hack an enemy's database and pinch data via a flash drive?

Again, afraid so, though the snappy editing ensures it's never dull.

Are the stunts any good?

Vic Armstrong is to stunts and second unit action direction what Rolls Royce are to car manufacturing, so the car chases and fights are well above par. He also does a great job of hiding the fact the key car chase is not in Moscow but the north of England.

How's Ken's direction?

He knows how to tell a cracking tale and keep the attention. And while it's not the most original film you'll see this year, there's something very satisfying about watching a filmmaker at the top of his game.

Any annoying bits?

Ticking time bomb aside, Jack escapes from a secure room in a secret lift... but leaves the door open so he can be easily spotted. He also fails to notice a killer has snuck onto his fake police van during the finale.

And the villainous Viktor fails to suspect that Ryan and his fiancée are playing him during a dinner scene. He may be a bad guy with an eye for the ladies but I doubt he's really that easily distracted.

Oh and there's some incomprehensible dialogue... from Ryan. Sadly no subtitles for English speaking actors, only the Russians.

Can we expect a sequel?

I hope so. Pine and Costner are great and I can see them working well on a follow-up. Ryan needs some continuity after four previous films with three actors. Pine is a solid hero so there's at least two more Ryan films in him.

How does Ryan rank in these post-Skyfall and Bourne years?

It's better than The Bourne Legacy but not as good as Bond's last outing. Though there is a bit in a glass lift which feels a bit Skyfall.

How does it rank in the Ryan canon?

All of the Ryan films have felt strangely generic, though this ticks over nicely, doesn't outstay its welcome and brightens any dull Sunday.

Is it better than Peter's Friends?

Yes.

Is the score any good?

Ken's regular composer Patrick Doyle does tend to overdo it a bit, punctuating every scene with OTT cues, ramming home the exciting bits. Sadly it's not as good as his work on Dead Again.

Can we expect any merch?

Probably not, though Ken's metallic key card is a cracker. Would look nice with Ryan Bingham's air miles card from Clooney's Up In The Air and Tyler Durden's soap salesman card from Fight Club.

Jack Ryan will never be Bond...