Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
exists in a strange world of hybridized espionage clichés. At its core, it stays loyal to the roots of Tom Clancy's enduringly popular title character, pitting a younger version of Ryan against Russians who exist in a sort of Cold War vacuum and hate America as much as they hate the letter W. But this is a post-9/11 Jack Ryan as well, so those very same Russians also operate a sleeper terrorist cell bent on blowing up Manhattan with homemade bombs. The new Jack Ryan
is a reboot and an origin story, wherein a college-age Jack (Chris Pine, the go-to guy for college-age versions of iconic heroes) heeds the call of duty when the Twin Towers go down. He first serves as a Marine and then becomes a brilliant analyst enlisted by the CIA to infiltrate Wall Street to discover who might be funding terror. Because this is a post-Bourne
film, there's some neck-punching paired with fights in bathrooms, motorcycle chases and aggressive Googling, with our hero pensively staring at a computer while his fingers fly. Pulling double duty as the film's director and its slinky villain, a slumming Kenneth Branagh proves he can be more fun than his PBS pedigree lets on, yet Jack Ryan
remains a pretty bland affair that's cobbled together from bits and pieces of other, better films.