Film review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (12A)

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ENTERTAINMENT

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
(12A) 105mins
★★★✩✩

In the weeks of angst and meditation that is pre-Oscar season, it's easy to forget the frantic pleasure of fast-administered popcorn.

If your worthy bones are aching and your discerning gland is gorged, then Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit may be just the Slushie to sluice your palate.

The rebooting of this franchise (in memory of techno-thriller author Tom Clancy) takes the eponymous square-jawed brains-with-brawn American Pieman (Chris Pine) right back to the beginning.

At whipcrack speed, we're whisked from his nerdy days in London to his marine's calling in Afghanistan and, via a helicopter crash, into the arms of doc Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley) who gets him back on his feet.

Fast forward (and director Kenneth Branagh keeps his finger firmly on the FF button) and the financial analyst has been recruited into the CIA by shaggy mentor William Harper (Kevin Costner) and dumped in a Wall Street mega-bank to keep an eye on things.
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There he spots an anomaly - them damned Ruskies are up to no good - and the spreadsheet-sporting, Manhattan frat boy is suddenly operational in the middle of Moscow trying to remember his whistle-stop tradecraft course in Langley after a certain wet room "situation".

Strange to think that Shakespeare's celluloid champ, Branagh, has transformed himself into the very model of a modern Hollywood film-maker.

Surely, it was the lure of playing creepy Russian businessman Viktor Cherevin that sealed the deal.

Sub-Bond villain Cherevin has plans to trash the US economy - all kickstarted with a 9/11 style attack - but first has to go head to head with Ryan and, more particularly, his fiancee who stumbles upon her beau's double life and is immediately recruited to the action as sexy diversion-in-chief.

All this scampers along at such a pace that the clues, the corny dialogue, lack of chemistry and the dearth of plausibility is scarcely noticeable.

Chris Pine is earnest and inoffensive. Knightley, sporting an effective US accent, is the least grating she has been on screen (the tics restrained) but there's nothing much going on between the two doctors, despite her kittenish pawing and his eye-bulging protestations of love.

Still, no matter. This is about show, not the tell. About effects, not causes.

Branagh has delved into Paul Greengrass's Bourne playbook to give the action fast cuts and edge and it's all so preposterous and epic and slick that there's nothing left to do but to dislodge that kernel, sit back and enjoy the ride. You're in good hands.

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