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CIA agent back solid in 'Shadow Recruit'

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POSTED: February 7, 2014 4:00 p.m.
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There's plenty of action in this adaptation of Tom Clancy's "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit."

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Author Tom Clancy’s main character is back in theaters in “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” This time, Ryan is portrayed by Chris Pine, the star of the recent Star Trek reboot.
Pine is the fourth actor to bring the CIA agent to life. Alec Baldwin took Jack to sea in 1990’s “The Hunt for Red October.” Then Harrison Ford took over in 1992’s “Patriot Games” and 1994’s “Clear and Present Danger.” In 2002, Ben Affleck starred as Ryan in “The Sum of All Fears.” (Re-watch that one to catch the similarities between it and the current film.)
In this franchise reboot, we get to know Ryan from his military beginnings. He is recruited to the CIA by Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) and can’t tell his fiancée, Cathy (Keira Knightly). The real problem unfolds when Ryan, undercover on Wall Street, uncovers a terrorist plot about to be perpetrated by a scary Russian CEO (Kenneth Branagh, who also directed).
Critics have not been very kind to “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” calling it mediocre. But I was pleasantly surprised by this film. The script forces a modern update on what could have been a Cold War story. This was dangerous, but I felt that it worked.
I attribute most of the film’s success to Branagh, but Pine also does a great job. His Jack Ryan is human and he sweats under pressure.
As for Costner, he’s back in a big way. The actor, who steadily has put out only about one film per year since 1999, has about four more films scheduled for release this year alone. However, here, his character balances precariously between flat and interesting, as does Knightley’s. But in the end, action and suspense make this picture well worth seeing.
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