Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is a well-educated American who after 9/11 he joins the military to serve his country. After a devastating attack on his crew, he is injured and forced to leave his duties. Meeting Cathy (Kiera Knightley), his therapist, Jack knows that’s the one for him. However, Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) still sees him as a valuable asset and recruits Jack to the CIA as an undercover analyst. When Jack find links to a Russian magnate, Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh), he must go to Russia and find the truth about his discovery, but things are about to turn up a notch when things take a violent turn.
With Kenneth Branagh at the helm, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit brought a fresh new look to Tom Clancy’s classic character. After four previous actors have taken the role of Jack Ryan, including Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, Chris Pine take was better than expected. With that being said, the task to bring Jack Ryan back to the big screen was an uphill battle, losing Harrison Ford during the early script development, so with Pine a lot of hope was placed and indeed his performance was excellent. Far from the egotistical Captain Kirk, his cool and so out of his element act gave the audience an improbable hero.
But Pine’s performance couldn’t have shined without Kenneth Branagh’s excellent storytelling. Kenneth Branagh’s storytelling is some of the best in the business. Here Branagh brings a great balance in the story, there’s good character development, drama, action and suspense. There was always a good sense of pace and the story didn’t needlessly drag on. Branagh spent the first part of the film creating a backstory and giving the audience a glimpse of who was Jack Ryan. In essence Branagh set a perfect tone for Ryan that allowed us to really feel some attachment for him.
Shadow Recruit didn’t really perform as well as I had expected with a $50+ million Dollar domestic gross. Indeed the fact that many didn’t exactly know whom Jack Ryan is could be the real culprit. However, this new incarnation of the character hopefully brings more entries to the franchise since Shadow Recruit was very entertaining.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is almost perfect if it wasn’t for a slight video issue. The Blu-ray features a rather pristine and very detailed image. However, I did notice a few scenes were the images appeared to be hard to make out. I am not sure if that was due to a filmmaker’s shooting technique or the actual transfer issue. Either way the problem is minimal so it’s easy to overlook. The rest of the film is fantastic and the detailing is exceptional. The image does feature a golden tint in a few scenes but it gives the picture a very natural look in most of the scenes. Black levels are deep and inky without any issues. Black colors do not overwhelm the picture either. The picture is very close to perfect, but even with the minor problem, Jack Ryan looks great!
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit comes to Blu-ray with a fantastic 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless track. This track is demo worthy and it is quite possibly the best 7.1 track out there.
The track features a very prioritized dialogue throughout the film. The track does maintain its subtle tone through the first third of the film, but even during the most retrained moments of the film the track remains surprisingly active using all the channels. As mentioned before, the rears and surrounds are always active and creating a great atmosphere. Under the most suspenseful scenes the track shines and it gets better during the action sequences. The track is definitely one of the best out there.
Audio Commentary – This track features commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Lorenzo di Bonaventura. The pair gives the audience every bit of information that any fan would want. This track offers far more than I initially expected, why couldn’t more tracks be like Branagh and Bonaventura’s?
Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the Room (13:37) – The filmmakers and actors talk about the character of Jack Ryan and the franchise as a whole.
Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar of Shadow Recruit (9:49) – Actors and other filmmakers of the movie talk about the director Kenneth Branagh and his strengths.
Jack Ryan: A Thinking Man of Action (5:19) – Filmmakers talk about Vic Armstrong and his stunt and special effects work in Shadow Recruit.
Old Enemies Return (21:13) – This piece goes over the themes, story, characters, and more. This piece really digs through the political themes of the film.
Deleted & Extended Scenes (5:03) – All scenes can be played with optional commentary by Kenneth Branagh and Lorenzo di Bonaventura.
I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting much from Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, since character was very unfamiliar to me. However, Shadow Recruit was far better than I thought. Kenneth Branagh’s directional efforts are fantastic and Chris Pine brings back Jack Ryan in a fresh new take. I honestly cannot wait for more. Technically, the Blu-ray presentation is excellent specifically the audio track is fantastic! Demo worthy no doubt. Do not hesitate to pick up Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit as it is highly recommended!