‘Jack Ryan’ entertains, but doesn’t surprise

The late Tom Clancy’s fictional CIA analyst Jack Ryan may not be as well known as James Bond, but with almost 20 novels and five movies under his belt, he’s done pretty well over the years.

Ryan has been played in the past by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck, but “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” seeks to bring him to a new era with Chris Pine in the title role.

While it isn’t revolutionary by any means, the movie is generally a good time.

The film acts as a Jack Ryan origin story, with the young analyst being recruited by the CIA to make sure private banks aren’t funding terrorists.

This is the first movie in the series to be based on an original story instead of an existing novel, but all of the typical Tom Clancy trappings are here. Evil Russians want to collapse the U.S. economy with a terrorist attack, and Jack Ryan is put in the unfortunate position of making sure it doesn’t happen.

The story may be a bit implausible and unfair to Russians, but it’s tightly paced and remains fairly tense throughout. Director Kenneth Branagh also co-stars as the film’s villain, and the character is appropriately devilish in a cheesy way, just as they tend to be in these stories.

The word “analyst” is important because, although Ryan performs covert operations for the CIA, his job consists mostly of tracking financial records, not sneaking around and shooting people.

There are some pretty good action scenes, but what makes “Shadow Recruit” somewhat more interesting than its modern counterparts is the relatively low level of violence.

Most of the tension comes from investigating computer files and phone records. The best part of the movie comes when Ryan pinpoints the terrorist’s location by, well, analyzing.

Chris Pine was a solid choice to play Jack Ryan. His performance isn’t Oscar-worthy by any means, but he embodies the reluctant hero personality fairly well.

Even though Ryan doesn’t feel qualified to stop a terrorist attack (he’s just an analyst, after all), he comes to terms with what he needs to do, and Pine’s performance does a better job of demonstrating that than the writing does.

It may not be hugely original or exciting to a wide audience, but “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is an adequately entertaining political thriller that is fun without being totally brainless. Anyone who is a fan of the character or the genre should have a good time with it.