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WILL JACK BE BACK?

For Hicksflicks.com, Jan. 24, 2014

To say "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" (PG-13) did not do well at the box office when it opened last weekend (Jan. 20) is to understate.

In fact, it was a dismal opening, in fourth place behind … wait for it … No. 1 film of the week, "Ride Along" (PG-13), a bombastic, frantic comedy with Ice Cube and helium-voiced motor-mouth Kevin Hart.

And behind "Lone Survivor" (R), the excellent true Navy Seals wartime drama starring Mark Wahlberg, which is a deserved hit.

And it was also behind the vilified Korean animated feature "The Nut Job" (PG).

In fact, "Ride Along" and "The Nut Job" carry two of the lowest ratings in recent memory at Rotten Tomatoes, an aggregate website that culls reviews from around the country. "Ride Along" is at 18 percent and "The Nut Job" is at 13 percent.

"Jack Ryan," on the other hand, is at 60 percent, not great but also not bad. That puts the film on the plus side of the ledger. ("Lone Survivor" is at 74 percent.)

What this means is that Paramount's original-script reboot of the Jack Ryan movies (following "The Hunt For Red October," "Patriot Games," "Clear and Present Danger" and "The Sum of All Fears," all based on books by the late Tom Clancy) may or may not kick off the revived franchise that the studio was aiming for.

Oddly, it's the second "Jack" franchise attempt in 13 months that has underperformed for Paramount, the other being "Jack Reacher" (PG-13). After a less-than-stellar performance at the domestic box office, that film was thought to be a one-and-done project, but its overseas earnings were impressive enough to greenlight a sequel, giving Tom Cruise two active franchises for the studio ("Mission: Impossible 5" is scheduled release next year).

And now all eyes are on "Jack Ryan's" foreign box-office earnings to see if I will become Chris Pine's second Paramount franchise (after "Star Trek").

In the meantime, don't stay away just because of box office reports. If you're looking for an exciting thriller (after seeing "Lone Survivor," of course), check out "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit."

It's flawed but in the second half when it really gets going it's quite the thrill ride.