‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’: The Reviews Are In

Chris Pine's action-packed espionage thriller 'has no personality of its own' but 'keeps you watching,' critics say.

Jack Ryan is back on the big screen this weekend with Chris Pine suiting up as the Tom Clancy-created hero in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.”

In the role previously played by Alec Baldwin (“The Hunt for Red October”), Harrison Ford (“Patriot Games”) and Ben Affleck (“The Sum of All Fears”), Pine takes on an origin story that brings the character across the globe from London to Afghanistan to New York and Moscow. Kenneth Branagh pulls double duty on the 105-minute espionage thriller as both director and Ruskie villain, while Keira Knightley and Kevin Costner co-star.

Critics are lukewarm on the flick, which many say lacks originality or distinction within a crowded genre. The upside? Enjoyable performances and jam-packed action sequences will keep you watching. “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” opens Friday (January 17).

It’s Like ‘James Bond’ Meets ‘Mission Impossible’
“Jack’s fight with an assassin in a Moscow hotel room has the punch of a ‘James Bond’ film. And an extended sequence of Jack trying to get in and out of Viktor’s fortress without detection could be right out of the ‘Mission: Impossible’ franchise. That’s the disturbing point. ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ has no personality of its own.” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Pop Fiction Can Still Be Smart
“Hollywood realism is to realism as reality TV shows are to reality: the truth jazzed up into pop fiction. If Branagh’s realism is meant to evoke ‘Condor’ and ‘The Parallax View,’ it must also incorporate such spy-movie implausibilities as the villain who threatens to do some awful thing just long enough for the hero to show up and stop it. Still and all, consider the January competition and praise ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’ for being the year’s first movie with a three-digit IQ.” — Richard Corliss, TIME

Performances Will ‘Keep You Watching’
“Costner is in fine dry form, Knightley is at her most open and gorgeous, and Pine goes through the motions of saving the Western world with a swaggery concentration that keeps you watching. I just hope that in the next Ryan outing, his charisma will have the added sheen that comes with being at least one step ahead of the audience.” — Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

Meet Me in Moscow
“Branagh endows his film with (mostly) old-fashioned competency — something often lacking in today’s action films — but little to distinguish it from superior thrillers that have come before. The best thing here is the sleekness of modern Moscow, where much of the action takes place. The film is filled with a nighttime mix of neon and taillights set against the Kremlin and other monuments — a handsome enough rendering to send a viewer back to the recent Bond, ‘Skyfall,’ for those elegant Shanghai scenes.” — Jake Coyle, The Associated Press

Not Quite Grown-Up
“‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,’ well acted up and down, feels caught halfway between being an idiotic spy picture for adolescents, and a reasonably grown-up thriller for reasonably grown-up grown-ups. The latter isn’t the target demographic for the average franchise re-launch. But that’s what the film is, at heart: an average franchise re-launch.” — Michael Phillips, The Chicago Tribune