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Film / Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014) is a Continuity Reboot of the film series based on the character of Jack Ryan created by the late Tom Clancy. It stars Chris Pine as Jack Ryan, Keira Knightley as his wife Cathy, Kevin Costner as Ryan's CIA superior William Harper, and Kenneth Branagh (who also directs) as Viktor Cherevin, a sinister Russian who plans to use a terrorist attack to crash the U.S. economy. It is the first Jack Ryan film that is not based on any of the novels in the Jack Ryan book series.

The trailer can be seen here.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit provides examples of:

  • Adapted Out: Admiral Jim Greer, Ryan's CIA superior for most of the novels, is not mentioned either. Presumably, Ryan hasn't met him yet.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: The book version of Cathy is a classical blond-haired, blue-eyed beauty. In this film she's a brunette.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Cherevin.
  • The Alcoholic: Cherevin, for whom the symptoms of one of the problems with alcoholism is clearly obvious to Cathy Mueller, who figures out that he's dying of cirrhosis of the liver caused by a lifetime of heavy drinking.
  • Artistic License – Law: Cathy is able to fly to Moscow on short notice and surprise Jack. Russia requires a visa in advance from American tourists before entering the country, which can take weeks to approve.
  • Artistic License – Military: Jack Ryan becomes a Marine officer after 9/11, but the oath we hear him take is for enlisted men. The officer's oath makes no mention of the President or obeying orders.
  • Artistic License – Religion: The portrayal of Russian Orthodoxy is inaccurate.
    • There is no service in the Russian Orthodox typikon that corresponds to the one attended by the terrorist cell pretending to be a family.
    • Scripture readings in Russian Orthodox churches are predetermined by a lectionary, and there is very little room for variance, making an unscheduled reading a poor choice to use as a cue to activate a terrorist sleeper cell. At the very least, the reading from Lamentations would be obviously out of the ordinary to people in charge of the service who are not in the terrorist cell, such as the clergy, the readers, and the chanters.
    • Pews are rarely present in Russian Orthodox churches, and even more rarely used. Russian Orthodox Christians customarily stand during services.
    • The supposed interior of the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow was actually filmed in Westminster Cathedral in London, and the scenes in the fictional St. Uriel's were filmed in a parish of the Church of England. Neither bears any architectural resemblance whatsoever to a Russian Orthodox church.
  • Badass Bookworm: Jack Ryan, who although trained as a Marine is primarily an analyst working undercover for the CIA.
  • Badass Crew: Every one of the CIA agents on Harper's team is a badass.
  • Bathroom Brawl: An assassin tries to kill Jack in his hotel room and they get into a fight in the bathroom, which ends when Jack turns on the water in the bathtub and holds the assassin's head under until he drowns.
  • Battle Trophy: Cherevin keeps an American grenade on his desk, similar to the one that nearly killed him in Afghanistan.
  • Benevolent Boss: Rob Behringer, Jack's boss at the Wall Street investment house where he works. He seems to genuinely like Jack, and even warns him "If you see any sign that the FSB is involved in this, I want you to take the first plane back home. Those guys play rough."
  • Big Bad: Viktor Cherevin.
  • Book Ends: Cherevin receiving a phone call to meet with Minister Sorokin immediately. The first meeting kicks off Lamentations, the second meeting has Cherevin being executed for his failure.
  • Bullying a Dragon: After foolishly allowing himself to be manipulated into giving up his access card by Jack and Cathy, the chief of security for his boss verbally berates him for being so powerless against vodka and women, and ends by saying "your son would be ashamed of you." Cherevin immediately grabs a gun and kills his security chief for the unwanted criticism.
  • The Cameo: Mikhail Baryshnikov appears in two short scenes as Minister Sorokin, The Man Behind the Man for Cherevin's plot.
  • Cleanup Crew: After Jack's encounter with an assassin who was posing as his bodyguard, he notifies Harper's team about the dead body in his hotel room. After meeting with Harper, he returns to his room to find that the body has been removed and the damage from the brawl has been repaired.
  • Commanding Coolness: Harper was a Commander in the U.S. Navy (and, given his skill when it comes to small unit infantry combat, it's quite likely that he was a SEAL).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Teddy's motorcycle.
  • Door-Closes Ending: As Ryan is led in to give his briefing to the president.
  • Dragon-in-Chief/The Heavy: Aleksandr to Cherevin and Sorokin.
  • The Dreaded: Pretty much everybody in this movie is scared of the FSB (the Federal Security Service, Russia's primary internal security agency and the successor to the KGB's Second Chief Directorate).note 
  • Establishing Character Moment: Ryan's chopper ride, which establishes he's smart, left college to join the Marines, and is dogged in pursuit of leads and intel.
  • Evil Counterpart: Viktor Cherevin serves as this to Jack Ryan.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Jack keeps explaining to Harper what their man inside Cherevin's office will need to do... and then realizing that he's the guy.
  • Expy:
    • William Harper seems to be an expy of both Admiral James Greer and John Clark from the novels. Both Greer and Clark are Navy veterans, as is Harper. Greer, like Harper, encouraged Ryan to come to work for the CIA and served as a mentor to him. Also, Harper and Clark are both highly competent field officers are aren't afraid to kill in the line of duty.
    • Viktor Cherevin is very similar to Raizo Yamata from Debt of Honor. Both are powerful businessmen who plan to weaken the value of the dollar and cause economic chaos in the U.S.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Cherevin is called to meet with Sorokin at the end of the film, you can see on his face that he knows he is going to be killed. When he arrives at the meeting point, he doesn't beg or plead, he just states that he did it all for Russia (of course, the fact that he was dying of liver failure probably didn't give him much fear of being killed).
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Jack and Cathy begin falling for each other while he's being rehabilitated from his back injury and she is his physical therapist. However, they don't begin dating until his rehabilitation is over because it's an ethics violation for a doctor to date their patient.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Sorokin and his associates.
  • Handicapped Badass: The helicopter crash crushed Ryan's spine, but he still managed to get up and pull two men out. Years later he is still wearing a back brace, has a slight limp, and continues to have a prescription for powerful painkillers, but none of it stops him from going from a desk job to field work with aplomb when forced to.
  • The Handler: Harper serves as this to Ryan.
  • Hopeless War: The wars in Afghanistan; Cherevin mentions over dinner that he served during the Soviet occupation.
    Cherevin: Different time, different empire, same graveyard.
  • Hospital Hottie: Cathy Muller, who is played by the very attractive Keira Knightley.
  • Karma Houdini: Minister Sorokin.
  • Invisible President: Jack gets to meet the President of the United States due to his role in averting the terrorist attack on Wall Street. Other than an arm extended for a handshake, however, the President is not seen, though his voice is heard.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Jack is shown attending the London School of Economics when the 9/11 attacks occur.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Cherevin does this to someone in his introductory scene.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Cathy flies to Russia because she thinks that Jack is cheating on her. She's so happy he's not cheating, she's actually pretty cool with him being in the CIA.
  • Mirror Character: Jack Ryan and Victor Cherevin. Both fought for their respective countries, both served in Afghanistan (which Cherevin notes is still a graveyard), and both are employed by shadowy elements of their governments in an economic capacity.
  • Mythology Gag: Although this film is not a direct adaptation of any of the Jack Ryan novels, it does borrow some plot elements from some of them. For example:
    • Jack's secretiveness causing Cathy to suspect he's having an affair also happened in The Sum of All Fears.
    • The plot to weaken the dollar and cripple the U.S. economy was from Debt of Honor.
    • Jack ambushing an armed foe by dropping on him from above happened in The Hunt for Red October.
    • A man falling for his physical therapist while in rehabilitation for a back injury happened between John Kelly and Sandy O'Toole in Without Remorse.
    • Jack being given a gun and asked to temporarily act as a field agent happened in Red Rabbit. Not to mention also having to backup Ramius in The Hunt for Red October.
    • Monitoring the stock market to find sources of terrorist group funding was the purpose of the Campus in The Teeth of the Tiger.
  • Sherlock Scan:
    • Being a medical doctor, Cathy can tell from the Big Bad's appearance that he is dying from cirrhosis of the liver.
    • Among Jack's skills are keen observation and determining an aspect of someone's character based on their possessions. When his friend buys a motorcycle, he sets him up with the girl he's obviously sweet on; he figures out a key aspect of Cheverin's plan based on the painting in his office.
  • Torture Technician: Cherevin casually explains to Jack how he and his fellow prisoners discovered that breaking a lightbulb in someone's mouth is a highly effective way of causing long-term damage.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers play up Jack as a kind of James Bond/Jason Bourne assassin badass and Cathy as a honey pot/double agent. In reality, Jack is an analyst pressed into field work, and Cathy is exactly what she is in the books: a doctor.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Cherevin is dying from cirrhosis of the liver, with only a few months left to live.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • Cherevin kills his security chief after Jack successfully steals his computer files.
    • Minister Sorokin has his agent Cherevin killed after his plan has failed.