Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a mostly appealing presentation.
Sharpness became the only inconsistent element, as a handful of shots came across as a bit soft. These remained infrequent, though, so the majority of the flick displayed concise, distinctive elements. I saw no jaggies or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to mar the image. Print flaws also didn’t appear.
Here’s a shocker: Recruit opted for a palette with an obvious teal and orange push! Especially teal, as it happened, along with some yellow as well. I’m tired of these stylistic choices, but within the image’s parameters, they looked solid. Blacks showed good depth and darkness, while low-light shots appeared smooth and clear. The occasional soft moment made this a “B”, but the picture worked well most of the time.
I also felt happy with the solid DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Recruit. Despite the movie’s billing as an action movie, it didn’t come with a ton of chances for auditory theatrics. The Afghanistan sequence at the start used the speakers to good advantage, and the climax also displayed dynamic material.
A few other scenes kicked into higher gear, too, but much of the film stayed fairly atmospheric. That was fine, as we got good stereo music and a nice sense of place. The various elements combined in a compelling manner to form a strong soundscape.
Audio quality was also positive. Music sounded lively and full, while effects delivered accurate material. Those elements showed nice clarity and kick, with tight low-end. Speech was always distinctive and concise, too. This mix worked well for the film.
When we move to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director/actor Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/character domains, sets and locations, action and stunts, cast and performances, music, effects, and related topics.
Branagh and di Bonaventura combine for a mostly good commentary. On the negative side, they engage in more general happy talk than I’d like, but they still manage to deliver a lot of useful notes about the film. We learn a fair amount in this positive piece.
Six Deleted and Extended Scenes go for five minutes, 10 seconds. Most of these add small tidbits; they can be fun but seem unessential. An alternate ending also appears and offers a mildly interesting change of pace from the finished film.
We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Branagh and di Bonaventura. They tell us about the sequences and why they didn’t make the final cut. Their notes add good insights, though oddly, they say nothing for the fifth scene.
Four featurettes follow. Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the Room runs 13 minutes, 37 seconds and includes notes from di Bonaventura, Branagh, director of photography Haris Zambarloukos, stunt coordinator/2nd unit director Vic Armstrong, producers Mace Neufeld and Mark Vahradian, executive producer/unit production manager Tommy Harper, and actors Chris Pine, Keira Knightley, and Kevin Costner. “Room” looks at the reboot of the Ryan series and story/character areas in Recruit, cast and performances, and connected elements. The program offers a smattering of good tidbits – especially when it looks how Recruit fits the rest of the series – but “Room” tends to be superficial and puffy.
During the nine-minute, 49-second Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar of Shadow Recruit, we hear from Branagh, di Bonaventura, Costner, Pine, Knightley, Vahradian, Zambarloukos, Harper, costume designer Jill Taylor, production designer Andrew Laws, producer David Barron, and actor Alec Utgoff. We learn what Branagh brought to the film, his performance, and how he worked on the set. This includes some nice footage from the shoot and a few decent details, but like its predecessor, it tends toward praise much of the time.
Jack Ryan: A Thinking Man of Action lasts five minutes, 19 seconds and features Branagh, Vahradian, di Bonaventura, Utgoff, Armstrong, Harper, and actor Nonso Anozie. This one looks at stunts and action. It gives us a smattering of useful shots and comments.
Finally, we get Old Enemies Return. It fills 21 minutes, 13 seconds with material from Branagh, di Bonaventura, Vahradian, Pine, Utgoff, Washington University in St. Louis Vice Chancellor for International Affairs James V. Wertsch, Saban Center at Brookings Director of Research Daniel Byman, Johns Hopkins University Center for Transatlantic Relations Senior Fellow Michael Haltzel, and former CIA collection management officer Graham Segroves. “Enemies” looks at the current status of US/Russian relations as well as some history of that subject. With the emphasis on factual matters, “Enemies” becomes the disc’s meatiest piece; it’s a satisfying little show.
A second disc presents a DVD copy of Recruit. This includes previews but lacks the Blu-ray’s extras.
With Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, we get a formal reboot of the Tom Clancy franchise, but not one that does enough to satisfy. While it comes with some good moments, it doesn’t sustain these and turn into a consistently winning effort. The Blu-ray provides good picture and audio along with a reasonably positive set of bonus materials. Recruit offers an intermittently enjoyable movie but not anything better than that.