“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”
Music By Patrick Doyle
Varese Sarabande VSD-7242
24 Tracks/Disc Time: 74:10
Tom Clancy’s memorable CIA analyst Jack Ryan had been hibernating for more than ten years and quite surprisingly as his last cinematic outing, “The Sum Of All Fears” was a huge success especially after 9/11. The series of films which had featured memorable turns by Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck, which gave different aspects of the character at certain point in time. This new version inspired by the character and not based on any of Tom Clancy’s novels, is a reinvention of the character under the capable hands of Oscar winner writer/director Kenneth Branaugh, who did very admirable job on Marvel’s “Thor” a few years ago which was a huge success. “Star Trek’s” Chris Pine takes the lead as the new face of Jack Ryan who was attending the London School of Economics; and 9/11 happened. He would then enlist in the Marines and would go to Afghanistan. The chopper he was on would get shot down and he would suffer severe injuries that would require intense rehab. While there, he grabs the attention of veteran CIA agent William Harper (Oscar Winner Kevin Costner, “Dances With Wolves”) who would like him to finish his studies and get a job on Wall Street so he can find out of any terrorist plot through their finances. A few years later, Ryan finds anomalies in the accounts of a Russian named Cherevin (Branaugh). Jack thinks he should go to Russia to find out what’s going on. Jack was told not to tell anyone who he is and that includes his girlfriend (and future wife) Cathy (Keira Knightley, “Pirates of the Caribbean”) who catches Jack’s rouse which makes her doubt him. Jack goes to Russia and Cherevin assigns him someone to take care of him. Soon Jack finds himself in a position where he has to choose to save his own life as well as of that of the free world, or sit in the sidelines while Cherevin unvails a very destructive plan that could be a castostrophic disaster.The film hasn’t been as potent as its’ past predecessors, but it has won some critics over with its’ fine casting and direction.
One very special thing about the previous Jack Ryan films were the use of music as well as the great composers that contributed to them that include the late Basil Poledouris (“The Hunt For Red October”), Oscar Winner James Horner (“Patriot Games” & “Clear And Present Danger”) and the late Oscar Winner Jerry Goldsmith (“Sum Of All Fears”). Their scores were flavorable, propulsive and chock full of suspense and action which is pretty much what the Tom Clancy novels were about. Now enter Oscar nominee Patrick Doyle, who made a sensational splash in 1989 which his critically acclaimed (and Oscar nominated score) for Branaugh’s “Henry V”, along with the acclaimed actor/director’s works on “Dead Again”, “Much Ado About Nothing”,”Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein”, “Love’s Labors Lost” and “Hamlet” throughout the 90’s with the pair reuniting on “Thor” a few years ago after somewhat of a long hiatus for both working together.
The music for “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is pretty much in line with today’s action scores: lots of brass, synthesizers, percussion, keyboards and plenty of aggressive string work. Quite simply, it really fits in between scores like “The Bourne Legacy”, “Knight And Day”, “Green Zone”, “Captain Phillips” and “A Good Day To Die Hard” and while the results are some mixed and will question why Doyle’s score is dominated by electronics for the most part is pretty much explained in that the the scores I mentioned are pretty much what make up the essence of action scores today. While the results are perfect in that the music fits the film exceptionally, on CD it might feel like a bit of a drag considering its’ 70 plus minute running time.
I mean there is plenty to like here with exciting high charged action tracks such as “Bike Chase”, “Stealing The Data”, “Get Out”, “Moscow Car Chase”, “Chopper To NYC”, and “Jack And Aleksandr” that are very aggressive, thematic and propulsive that really drive this score alot better than “Thor” where the action material and the electronics really clashed hard which resulted in a very disappointing score. Here they work in unison and work perfect without question and there are elements of one of my favorite scores “Carlito’s Way”, which was is still the quintessential Patrick Doyle action score. There’s also plenty of suspense and energy that really build a foundation to the action material, the ground work if you will that include tracks like “Unravelling The Data”, “Rooftop Call”, “Aleksandr”, “The Lightbulb”, and “The United Nations”, that feature a theme for the villain as featured in “Aleksandr” and the complimentary material for the action that unfolds throughout the album. Doyle also manages to get some lighter more intimate material for Ryan and his girlfriend Cathy (“The Engagement”, “Picking This Life”) and a great patriotic ending in “Ryan, Mr. President” which is definitely reminescent of his great work from his “Impressions Of America” album which is great to see here giving way to a reprise of the action theme in “Shadow Recruit” one last time to end the album.
Varese Sarabande’s very lengthy and surprisingly entertaining album is a solid one from start to finish eventhough it took me two listens to really get the feel and handle of Doyle’s new found action style and it works for what it is which makes it very successful in all facets. Most people, including myself would be turned off by the score’s length which is a bit too much for a repetitious score as this one despite the fact that it works so well. This to me is one of Patrick Doyle’s better scores of late for me along with his brilliant album “Impressions Of America”, which is absolutely worth owning! “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” is simply what it is, action, suspense and drama left in the capable hands of a terrific, underutilized composer that really deserves great projects. Bravo Patrick Doyle! Thumbs up.