Uh-oh, the Russians are back. And it’s up to Jack Ryan to stop them. The resuscitated hero of the late Tom Clancy’s string of spy novels and movies — previously played onscreen by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, and Ben Affleck — is now being impersonated by actor Chris Pine in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, the sort of movie that makes us nostalgic for the good-ol’ days of December 2013.
We had villains we could believe in back then. Now it’s a sinister Muscovite financial minister named Viktor Cherevin, portrayed by busy Kenneth Branagh, who also directs the movie. Cherevin wants to bring America to its knees by simultaneously launching a terrorist attack on New York (nuke in a tunnel under Wall Street) coordinated with an “external sterilized intervention” (god, I love that kind of talk) involving wrecking the US dollar (weren’t we already making a pretty good job of that ourselves?) in international currency markets. The motive: revenge for a Turkish oil pipeline. The dastardly Russian plot is the talk of security-spook break rooms everywhere, so naturally CIA man Thomas Harper (Kevin Costner) gets agency asset and Afghan war vet Ryan to fly to Moscow and bust it up.
Only trouble is, Jack’s wacky new bride, Cathy Muller (Keira Knightley), tags along, just to check up on her secretive fella. So our guy has to fight off the entire Russian security apparatus while trying to appease his jealous significant other. Then, after lunch …. The worst thing about this loud-but-boring spyboiler is Pine, who looks as if he was fabricated in a factory and pushed into each scene on casters. Other than that, it’s perfectly fine stupid entertainment for the dark months. Especially the part about the moles in Michigan.