Release Date(s)2014 (August 21, 2018)
Studio(s)Skydance/di Bonaventura Pictures/Mace Neufeld Productions (Paramount)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: C+
[Editor’s Note: This film is currently only available in the U.S. in the Jack Ryan 5-Film Collection in 4K, but it will no doubt be released by itself internationally and domestically at some point in the future, thus we are reviewing each film in the set individually.]
In yet another big screen reboot of the franchise based upon Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels, Chris Pine plays the title character, a former Marine who survives a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, has to re-learn walking, and is then recruited by a CIA handler named Harper (Kevin Costner) to be an undercover analyst on Wall Street investigating terrorist money laundering schemes in major banks. When Ryan uncovers suspicious financial accounts linked to a Russian oligarch (Kenneth Branagh), he’s sent to Moscow to audit the company’s accounts. But this oligarch, who is indeed up to dastardly global terrorist shenanigans, is immediately suspicious and turns up the heat on not just Ryan, but his girlfriend Cathy (Kiera Knightley) too.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is not a bad film. In fact, it’s a very capably directed action-spy thriller. Kenneth Branagh deserves credit both in front of and behind the camera. Pine makes a decent Ryan, and both Costner and Knightley are good in their roles. The problem here is with the writing, which reveals a genuine lack of understanding of its central character and a tendency to jump from one implausible situation to another. This is a Jack Ryan film… not Mission: Impossible. The film makes a serious mistake in rushing this Ryan from zero to superhero far too quickly to be believed. The Ryan character is an analyst who can handle a gun and has military training, but he’s not special forces. He’s supposed to be out of his depth in the field, but he manages to middle through by his smarts and the skin of his teeth. In this script, they sort of play with the idea that he’s not a field operative, but then they immediately turn him into Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt meets the BBC’s Sherlock. Pine’s Ryan is a novice who shifts into high gear and never looks back. It just doesn’t work.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was shot on both 35mm film and digitally in Redcode RAW (5K) using Arriflex, Panavision, and Red Epic cameras with anamorphic lenses. It was finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, was upsampled for this release, given a high dynamic range grade (both HDR10 and Dolby Vision options are available), and it’s presented here on 4K Ultra HD at the 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. Detail is generally quite nice, with good texturing, a light wash of grain, and the occasional bit of anamorphic optical softness. Colors are natural and richly saturated. Contrast is enhanced by HDR, with deeper blacks and bold highlights – possibly a little too bold occasionally – that are nearly eye-reactive. It’s a strong image on the whole, for a 2K upsample.
Primary audio on the 4K disc is included in English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, the same mix found on the previous Blu-ray. It’s a consistently excellent audio presentation, offering a large and dynamic soundstage, robust tonality, and smoothly precise surround placement and movement. Ambience and atmospherics are lovely in quieter moments, with thunderous bluster in set-pieces, all of it clean, clear, and natural. Music is well placed in the mix. This is very near to reference-quality action film audio. Additional sound options include English Audio Description and German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, French Canadian, Italian, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, and Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital. Available subtitles include English, English for the Hearing Impaired, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, French Canadian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Dutch, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese, Russian, Slovak, Finnish, and Swedish.
The 4K disc itself contains only one special feature, carried over from the previous Blu-ray:
- Audio commentary with Kenneth Branagh and Lorenzo di Bonaventura
The package also contains the film in 1080p via the previous Blu-ray, which adds the following content (all in HD):
- Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the Room (13:37)
- Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar of Shadow Recruit (9:49)
- Old Enemies Return (5:19)
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (6 scenes with optional commentary – 5:03)
The content is decent, starting with a bit of a retrospective on the Jack Ryan franchise. But like the film itself, the featurettes are glossy. Veteran stuntman Vic Armstrong features prominently, though, which makes them worth watching. You also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert in the package.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a poor Jack Ryan film. It is, however, a decent actioner and modestly entertaining for a couple of hours. If you do like the film and/or wish to see it in the best possible quality, Ultra HD is the best way to do it. And hey… if you buy Paramount’s Jack Ryan: 5-Film Collection in 4K for the much better earlier entries in this series, you get this one as a bonus. The Collection, at least, is highly recommended. This film, you can take or leave.
- Bill Hunt