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Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Blu-ray Review)

Jack-Ryan-Shadow-RecruitI’ve always been a pretty solid fan of the Jack Ryan franchise.  The first one I saw was Clear And Present Danger, where some friends and I just randomly went to a movie on an afternoon and saw it.  It was like my first super adult type movie I think I saw in the theater (or at least it felt like that, a film dealing more in politics and stuff).  I was in middle school so it felt much more mature to me.  But, I enjoyed it quite  a bit, so I went back and watched the other two.  And, I also wasn’t a hater of The Sum Of All Fears when Ben Affleck took on the role either.  Still found it to be a fun and engaging film.  Now, when wind came they were making another one, I was interested.  Not super jacked, but I was looking forward to eventually seeing it.  And now that time has come.

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Film 

In this (what could be actually deemed as a second) “Jack Ryan Begins” film, we modernize the story by including 9/11 elements and see his patriotism and brief service.  He’s then recruited by the CIA once he recovers from a war injury that almost left him paralyzed.  His first assignment is a cover job at a stock brokerage analyzing money transactions and trying to spot terrorist funding.  Ryan discovers a large amount of funds from Russian organizations controlled by Russian tycoon Viktor Cherevin have suddenly disappeared.  Ryan is then sent on his “Mission To Moscow” to meet with Cherevin and get to the bottom of these funds and files he cannot access.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I actually kind of enjoyed this one at a certain level.  It wasn’t exactly panned when it arrived, but it was met with middle of the road praise and a lot of “meh”.  I can see exactly what people were saying about the film, but I found a sort of beach novel quality to it and was running with it.  Yes, this movie was trying Jason Bourne-up Jack Ryan, but I thought it was kind of low key about it.  The movie was not very original in most of what it was trying to do, but I was digging Chris Pine and a lot of the “stealthy spy” type stuff going as well as most of the low key action scenes and chases that were going on.  No, I’m not saying this movie was great, but as something random to watch and not really have to think a lot about on a Friday afternoon, I couldn’t say I wasn’t pretty entertained.

Chris Pine was very enjoyable in the title role.  I don’t know why this guy isn’t in more (better) movies.  He kind of actually carries this one quite well.  The guy has an enjoyable commanding presence and is able to dig in and become a part of the material he’s instead of trying to be a standout.  I had never thought I would accept anyone other than William Shatner as Captain Kirk, but I really dig him in that role, if that’s telling you anything about how I respect the guy.

While I had praise for the film, it wasn’t without fault for me.  I love Keira Knightley, but I thought they forced her character into situations and scenarios she shouldn’t have been overall.  And then there’s a point about 2/3 of the way through where the movie does its damn best to fall apart and get a bit ridiculous.  The plot gets dumb and route, the performances go south and there’s a generic and kinda boring car chase.  But luckily it rectified itself for what I thought was a pretty fun finale.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit took me mildly by surprise.  I definitely wasn’t expecting to enjoy this film nearly as much as I did.  This one probably plays better on home video than it did sitting and paying to go to a theater to watch it I’d guess as well.  One thing I did like, too was that the movie was only a little over 100 minutes, which helped the film keep a good running pace.  As a middle of the road Bourne-infused generic spy movie that reboots Jack Ryan and definitely feels like a 90s movie in which the heyday of the character’s era happened, I found there to be a solid good time.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2:39.1

Clarity/Detail:  Folks, we have reference quality video here.  HOT DAMN this is a fine presentation.  Image is sharp and extremely detailed.  Almost like looking through a window.  From smudges on access cars, to being able to count every strand of hair on a head from a good distance to reflections on white tiles, you get it all.

DepthBlack Levels:  Perfectly saturated throughout.  There is a nice shading of all blacks and no detail is lost whatsoever.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are solid, pronounced as lifelike.

Flesh Tones:  Consistent.  EXTREME detail too.  You can make out every facet of anyone’s face, from stubble, wrinkles, pores, freckles, skin blemishes.  Seriously you can look at someone’s face and know what it feels like.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean as a whistle.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

Dynamics:  And we have reference quality audio as well!  This 7.1 track blew me away.  It had an amazing balance of score, dialogue and effects.  The home theater experience on it is tremendous.  There was a great variation of volume and area with the sound effects on it.  Its likely the best surround audio I’ve heard all year.

Low Frequency Extension:  Oh yes, perfectly saturated and used throughout.  Cars hitting the gas, gun shots, heads pounding into sinks, there’s use for your subwoofer aplenty.

Surround Sound Presentation:  All channels are accounted for an used well.  You get action in the rear and the sides.  The front speakers also have some tremendous interplay.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is clean, clear and crisp.  Perfect volume and clarity.

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Extras 

Jack Ryan: Shadow recruit comes with a DVD copy and Digital copy of the film.  It also comes with a coupon for $15 off a sporting even from TicketMaster.

Audio Commentary – Features director Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzodi Bonaventura.

Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy In The Room (HD, 13:37) – A look back at the character and the series of films and how to reinvent and incorporate him into the modern world.

Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar Of Shadow Recruit (HD, 9:49) – This one talks about the film’s director and costar.  It discusses what he brings to the table and his touch on the series.

Jack Ryan: A Thinking Man Of Action (HD, 5:19) – A featurette covering the stunts and effects of the film

Old Enemies Return (HD, 21:13) – This piece takes a look a the conflicts between the US and Russia as well as the decision to us the Russians as the villain in the movie.

Deleted And Extended Scenes – With Optional Commentary  By Kenneth Branagh And Lorenzodi Bonaventura (HD, 5:03) – Five scenes that were cut from or shortened in the final film.

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Summary 

Paramount delivers an amazing presentation of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, featuring reference level quality in both video and audio.  I was very VERY impressed with this presentation.  It also features an above average compilation of extras for the film as well.  I was surprised by the film and found it better than what I was expecting.  No, its nothing outstanding or anything you’re missing out on.  But, if you’re in the mood for a spy thriller that just sort of lets you put your brain at ease (which yes, I understand that’s not what Jack Ryan movies are usually about), I think you’ll find some fun and enjoyment for your next 100 minutes.  If you like this movie or are a collector based upon audio and video quality then definitely snag this one and put it in your collection.  The video is stellar and the 7.1 track is a real treat.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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