A Surprisingly Relatable Spy

Chris Pine stars in the thriller, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”


Sophia Werthmann

The movie opens to Jack Ryan, a soon-to-be CIA analyst, sleeping on a bench in the London School of Economics. Around him, people are hurrying about with questioning and distressed looks on their faces. When Jack wakes up, he can tell that something is wrong. It’s Sept. 11, 2001. This beginning is brilliant – it pulls you into the plot immediately. Right away, you can relate what is happening because this terrorist attack was not too long ago. You understand the confusion of the people and the sad look in their eyes.

There was more than one plane crash in this espionage thriller. Eighteen months after Sept. 11, Jack’s helicopter gets shot down in Afghanistan during a mission for the Marines.

 It is in an Army medical center where Jack meets Cathy, the person who will become his long time girlfriend. This love interest causes conflicts in the story. Cathy becomes suspicious that Jack is having an affair, and there are dangerous encounters with Russian terrorists.

 Shortly into the movie, on a CIA trip to Russia, Jack is forced to become an active spy in the field, regardless of the fact that he is only a CIA analyst. This change passes as realistic only because Jack was once a Marine. The first time he is faced with a near death situation, he survives, but not without a struggle. The viewer is strangely able to relate to how he reacts – his hands shake and he is jumpy. If a normal person was in a situation like Jack’s, they would act similarly. There are many spy movies that portray the star spy as unstoppable and fearless; it is nice to finally see an operative who is not afraid to show his fear.

Following the footsteps of Ben Affleck, Harrison Ford, and Alec Baldwin, Chris pine portrayed Tom Clancy’s character, Jack Ryan, wonderfully. Pine stars alongside Keira Knightley, who plays Cathy, and Kevin Costner, who plays Jack’s CIA mentor. The movie was directed by Kenneth Branagh, who also played the role of the Russian villain, Viktor Cherevin.

 There was the classic problem of needing to diffuse a bomb, but an untraditional issue in the movie was the possibility that the United States’ economy could be destroyed, causing a second great depression. This modern twist puts the movie at a higher level than most spy movies. More people can recount worrying about America’s current economic situation than they can recall fretting about the possible explosion of a bomb. This present-day problem gives the viewer an opportunity to associate their experiences with the film.

Along with the movie’s modern kick, many quintessential espionage tricks are sprinkled into the plot. There’s a commonplace pick-pocketing by a CIA agent, handoffs in order keep certain information safe, and a covert transfer of information at a movie theater.

 Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a unique espionage film. When you first meet Jack, he’s just an ordinary Marine veteran. Most spy movies portray the main character as a confident and courageous spy from the start. But in this flick, you are allowed to see Jack’s transformation from veteran to spy, and it almost makes it more suspenseful, because you never know exactly what Jack is capable of.