10 Big Questions Left Unanswered By ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’


5. For That Matter, Why Would the CIA Trust Jack So Much With Such a Major Mission?

Jack Ryan is an analyst. He’s doing great work, presumably, undercover at a major financial firm (does he get paid by them and the government?), and understandably the CIA wants him to go to Moscow to meet the man who might be funding terrorists in order to do a totally normal audit. Beyond that, there is no reason for him to be trusted with the responsibility he’s ultimately given. Why is Ryan the only person who could sneak into the office of Viktor the villain (Kenneth Branagh) and copy his files? What about those other spies on Harper’s team? Is there no other man in operations they can call in to handle such a risky task if they’ve never used a computer? Especially when having Ryan do it requires him to make some weird scene in front of his wife and Viktor after which he’s like, “I’m just going out for a long walk to cool off instead of keeping to our business dinner that is important to my firm back in the U.S.” This is a guy who just the night before had a traumatic experience with his first kill and doesn’t seem ready for real action yet. And was there no memory on the part of Harper and Cathy that Ryan is still rehabilitating from that broken back and might not be the best at running and jumping and fighting… [go back to question one].

6. Why Did Viktor Try to Kill Ryan at the Hotel?

When Ryan gets off the plane in Moscow, he immediately trusts the first man who says he’s his driver/protection and gets into that guy’s car. Fortunately he does make it safely to his hotel, but then once there the driver/bodyguard attempts to shoot him in the room. Why didn’t the guy just drive him right to some warehouse and do the job there? Firstly it doesn’t seem necessary to kill an analyst coming all that way to check your books — especially when it turns out you can just sell the assets and leave him with nothing to audit. He’s just some numbers nerd, as far as you know. Instead you want to have a hit on him in a way that doesn’t look at all like an accident, making you potentially appear suspicious as a result. If Ryan just went missing it could be any number of things gone wrong for a foreigner in a dangerous city, but if he’s cleanly assassinated, what kind of motive would there be for that except that he was being too nosy into a wealthy businessman’s affairs? And where did that evil vacuuming lady go? She was clearly in on the hit, but I guess only for noise diversion even though her partner in the room had a silencer anyway. Or wait, was she not in on it and that’s why she didn’t run in to help? Was she really just a cleaning lady who was acting weird and for a moment thought she heard a ruckus in the room? Was she CIA and there as eyes on Ryan? Very bad eyes, obviously? She’s now to be known as one of the most confusing extras ever seen in a film.

JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT7. Is It Customary For Our Spies to Steal Dogs?

Next time you see a flyer on a lamppost about a missing dog, chances are it was the CIA just stealing the pet as part of their cover. That just seems mean. Harper doesn’t even bring the poor mutt home when he’s done. Also, I’m sure he and Ryan looked so much less suspicious because of that dog. I’d be more worried that someone spotted the dognapping.

8. Why Did Viktor Fake His Son’s Death And Set Him Up As a Sleeper Agent So Long Ago?

Did anyone understand the details of this long-in-the-works scheme involving Viktor’s own son being raised in America so that one day he could be a suicide bomber on Wall Street? When and why did Viktor originate this plan, and why his son? Was attacking the U.S. economy really an idea for more than a decade? Couldn’t the young man have painted the van any earlier during that decade so it wouldn’t run the morning of the attack and be spotted as a fake? It seems like a lot of planning and ultimately some detrimental procrastination went into something that seems to have been in simple retaliation for an expected UN decision that the guy wasn’t happy with — even if he has also wanted revenge because of U.S. intervention during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan or something (this part I saw in the Wikipedia synopsis but don’t even recall it being mentioned in the movie).

9. Could One Russian Businessman Really Crush the U.S. Economy By Pulling All His Investments?

This seems pretty far fetched, but I don’t know. I don’t have a Ph.D. in economics like Jack Ryan. I’d love to hear from anyone out there who can explain the plausibility, because that sounds like something that shouldn’t be able to happen, a single foreign billionaire making the world economy vulnerable to what he does with his money.

10. Why Is the Film’s Tagline “Trust No One”?

There is one person who it turns out Ryan shouldn’t have trusted, the driver/bodyguard. Who else? Cathy doesn’t turn out to be working for the Russians, unfortunately, neither does Harper, who at one point convinces Ryan to trust him just because he has to trust someone. Such a tagline implies there’s going to be some deception at some point, but the film doesn’t deliver on that. If anything, the movie shows that we should trust people. We should trust an untrained analyst with the work of an operations agent. We should trust his girlfriend because she’s his girlfriend (and she indeed does everything right, and it’s the real CIA guys who mess up and let her get taken). Etc. Maybe the poster is trying to tell people not to trust the critics who give it a bad review. I say it should be the opposite, telling you not to trust the few who have given it a positive one.


Rather than a reject, Christopher Campbell is a film school dropout. But he has since gotten a master’s degree in cinema studies and has been blogging about movies since 2005. Earlier, he reviewed films for a zine (a what?) that you could buy at Tower Records (a what?). He is married with two children.

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