review – jack ryan: shadow recruit

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I’ve never been a fan of the late Tom Clancy’s long, involved, sometimes convoluted Cold War thrillers, but somehow his character Jack Ryan has survived thirty years and four major actors (Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, and now Chris Pine) playing him in the movies. He’s not a particularly distinctive character, but the stories that involve him are interesting and this one kept me involved. In this version, the writing tells us what we need to know, the direction is smoothly confident, the production values are high, the acting is good. That’s not to say I completely understood it because whenever currency manipulation is at the heart of the heart of a movie, I keep forgetting whether a “strong dollar” or a “weak dollar” is a “good dollar” and so I just kind of tune that out and focus on the action.

And there’s enough action here as the script tries to shoehorn a Cold War plot into a post-9/11 world. Before it’s over, expensive wine will be consumed; there will be several car chases; men will kill each other on several continents; a truck will be repainted and a relative will be identified; a computer will be downloaded to the accompaniment of pulse-pounding music while a digital clock counts down; and on a plane high over the Atlantic, you simply will not believe how quickly information can be obtained. If I were to see this again, I might try counting the clichés; in some ways, this could be called “suspense thriller’s greatest hits.” It’s all a bit entertaining, a light little movie that’s enjoyable without being particularly thrilling.

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