Film review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Dedicated to the memory of Tom Clancy, who died in October 2013, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is an old-fashioned espionage thriller, which revives the writer’s most popular fictional character.

Unlike The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Clear And Present Danger or The Sum Of All Fears, Kenneth Branagh’s film is not adapted from a specific book in the series.

Undated Film Still Handout from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Pictured: Kenneth Branagh as Viktor Cherevin. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Paramount. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Pictured: Kenneth Branagh as Viktor Cherevin. See PA Feature FILM Film Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Paramount. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Film Reviews.

Instead, scriptwriters Adam Cozad and David Koepp transplant the eponymous CIA operative into a modern-day terrorist scenario to lay the foundations for a new big screen franchise.

It’s solid, bombastic entertainment, punctuated by outrageous, briskly edited action sequences that owe a sizeable debt to The Bourne Identity and its influential sequels.

Cozad and Koepp meld present and past, harking back to the Cold War to generate friction between global superpowers America and Russia, then playing out a deadly game of cat and mouse using state-of-the-art technology.

The central plot, to de-stablise one country’s austerity-battered economy using the financial markets, seems frighteningly plausible.

But Branagh downplays his villain when some Alan Rickman-style wild overacting might have injected some welcome levity into the deadly serious proceedings, while big set pieces are orchestrated at a lick.