Anybody who has ever read any Tom Clancy knows Jack Ryan. Jack Ryan is the CIA operative who, seemingly in every book, saves the world through his cleverness and boundless fighting skills. Eventually, in the book Debt of Honor, Ryan rises politically and he is to be sworn in as Vice-President. Then a Japanese pilot flies his airliner into the Capitol killing off most of Congress, the cabinet, and the President, and Ryan is sworn in as President. That was actually a pretty good book. But I digress.
In this story, almost like a prequel to it all, we get to know Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) as a college student in London, England, the day when two airliners fly into the World Trade Center. Jack interrupts his Ph.D. studies and signs up for the military. In a whirlwind of introductory exposition, we witness Lieutenant Ryan shot down in a helicopter in Afghanistan, recover at Walter Reed, become a stock broker and economic genius, and discover a Russian plot to take down the United States by economic means and change the world order.
Aligned with his CIA handler Harper (Kevin Costner) and his doctor girlfriend Cathy (Keira Knightley), he fights a one-man war against the Russians.
A good thriller, Tom Clancy style, but a bit hard to follow as it often is with spy movie intrigues, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a good prequel to the entire Tom Clancy franchise – with some flaws.