Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Chris Pine, Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Costner, Keira Knightley
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes, Featurettes

The latest film in the series of Tom Clancy-based thrillers featuring CIA-agent Jack Ryan has been released by Paramount Home Entertainment. Simply called "Jack Ryan: shadow Recruit, " this film takes a step back and tells us the story how Jack has been first recruited by the CIA and the first job that he took, not quite knowing what he was about to get into.

After being wounded in Afghanistan, war veteran Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is falling back on his career as an economist. As a compliance officer, he is going through the client records of the brokerage company he is working for, when he realizes that a Russian client is hiding monies, funneling them into inaccessible accounts.

Ryan piques the interest of the CIA who has been continuously soliciting, and with his discovery in hand, he decides to join the agency and help them take down the Russians. Expecting a desk job, analyzing financial data, he finds himself out of his depth when he is being sent into the field to hack into Victor Cheverin's (Kenneth Branagh) computer to retrieve vital data. But things get even worse for Ryan when he comes into the line of fire and his wife (Keira Knightley) is caught in the Russian sights.

There have been a series of Jack Ryan movies in the past, most notably the films "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger," starring Harrison Ford in the 90s. Now going back to the roots, "Shadow Recruit" tells the story of how Jac kRyan was first recruited by the CIA. It gives the franchise a nice reboot and the opportunity to reinvent the hero.

At the same time, it means, that time has to be spent setting up the backstory, getting the ball rolling until Ryan eventually gets involved with his first case. While not taking too much time, overall, it still makes for a rather slow start of the movie. However, once the thing gets rolling, "Shadow Recruit" turns into an exciting roller coaster ride with plenty of action and surprises.

Paramount Home Entertainment is delivering a stellar 1080p high definition transfer of the film on this Blu-Ray release. Pristine and without blemishes, the transfer itself is a joy to watch, rendering an image that is incredibly detailed. Rich in colors and with deep, solid blacks, the image also has a very lavish look that always remains natural, and offers up plenty of visual depth. Whether it is the bright outdoor scenes, the dimly lit interiors or nighttime shots, the presentation is always opulent and maintains plenty of definition throughout.

The audio on the release arrives as a 7.1 channel DTS Master Audio track that is pulsating with energy. Making constant use of the surround channels, the track is filled with surround effects zinging around your living room. A low bass extension gives the track plenty of oompf when it counts and creates a presentation that is aggressive and dynamic, just as you would expect from a modern production.

Arriving as a Blu-Ray/DVD combo, the release also contains a DigitalHD version of the film, as well as a number of bonus materials, such as Deleted and Extended Scenes, as well as a commentary track by director Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura. I am not a big fan of commentary tracks in brand new movies, because they are usually recorded just after the film has been completed and as a result lack the emotional distance that allows real inflection of the participants. This one is no different. While it offers insight into the production and some of the decision-making process, it remains fairly fairly inconsequential for the most part.

The disc also contains a series of featurettes, examining various aspects of the film, including the character of Jack Ryan, Kenneth Branagh's bad guy and others.

"Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" turned out better than I had expected. Despite all of its digital polish, there is a solid story underneath that still manages to come through and allows the charcaters to establish themselves through their actions and emotions. So, if you're in the mood for a cool, modern action thriller, "Shadow Recruit" might be the ticket. Just give it a shot!