Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit review

Presumably forgetting that it had already rebooted the Jack Ryan franchise for a new generation with 2002's excellent The Sum of All Fears, Paramount has gone and pulled the same trick again. Sadly, in the process it has transformed the character into yet another generic pretty-boy action hero.

The writing is on the wall right from the off thanks to a trite opening scene that sees Ryan (Chris Pine) abandon his studies at the London School of Economics in the wake of 9/11 in order to join the marines. This in turn is quickly curtailed by a helicopter crash that eventually leads to him being recruited as an analyst for the CIA. And before you know it he's being shot at in Moscow and racing around New York on a motorbike.

The script's failings are only compounded by the cast. Pine brings nothing new to the character of Ryan outside of his squint-a-bit-and-maybe-it-could-be-Jason-Bourne looks, Keira Knightly is suitably awful in a thankless love interest role, while Kenneth Branagh (who also directs) chews the scenery as the thin-lipped Russian baddy. Only Kevin Costner really escapes unscathed as Ryan's gruff CIA boss, despite his only function being to tell us how smart Ryan is over and over again.

Ultimately there's just nothing about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit that feels in any way original. Every action scene, character and story beat is borrowed from another film – more often than not a better one. Which means that it looks like Ryan will need another reboot to keep this franchise viable.

Picture: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit's AVC 2.40:1 1080p transfer packs as much of a punch as any action hero. Colours are strong, contrast is stable and close-ups demonstrate perfectly-rendered textures. Yes, the shaky-cam approach adopted for the action scenes rob the image of a little sharpness, but overall it's a gorgeous Blu-ray encode.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: Just as impressive is the disc's DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix. The excellent clarity ensures that not a single line of dialogue is lost in the expansive soundfield, while the superb dynamic range and powerful bass add panache to the action scenes.
Audio rating: 4.5/5

Extras: In addition to a fairly technical chat-track featuring the director and producers, the disc also contains six deleted/alternate scenes (with optional commentary) and four Making of… featurettes exploring the process of rebooting the character, Branagh's performance, the action scenes and thinking behind using Russians as the film's villains.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: Solid AV credentials mean that this unoriginal spy thriller could still find some fans on Blu-ray 

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Paramount, All-region BD, £25 Approx