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Modern day cold war clichés

OUT NOW! Terrorism, global ecomomic meltdowns, cyber warfare: JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT's contemporary facade gives way to a shaky bygone foundation.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit hits Berlin screens February 27.

We’re in 21st-century Moscow and Jack Ryan (Pine) is saving the world from global (aka American) economic meltdown triggered by massive stock dumping triggered, in turn, by a terror attack on US soil.

Cyber technology is the current bogeyman, and it’s not as if Sir Ken hasn’t cut his teeth on bigbudget butt-kicking in Thor. But general metropolitan mayhem is a long way from re-imagined mythology. And in re-imagining the origins of Clancy’s patriotic hero, Branagh’s film comes up against the same problems as the similarly themed Casino Royale. Placing a vulnerable, younger hero in an old franchise requires creditable ideological backup. It’s supplied here by a brief run-through of scenes sketching Ryan’s 9/11 shock, subsequent active service and recruitment by CIA minder (Costner) as covert agent on Wall Street, before going straight into battle with Cheverin (Branagh) as the Afghan-scarred Russian patriot masterminding America’s downfall. Never mind that a lot of action takes place in front of laptop screens. The Cold War revisiting behind it all feels both arbitrary and déjà vu and not all the car chases in Moscow and Manhattan, however impressive, can oomph over its fragile foundations.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit | Directed by Kenneth Branagh (USA, Russia 2014) with Chris Pine, Kevin Costner and Keira Knightly. Starts February 27

Originally published in issue #125, March 2014.