Spy thriller Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit showcases UK’s versatility

24 January 2014

Today sees the UK release of Paramount’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, a re-imagining of the hugely successful spy franchise based on the novels of Tom Clancy. With the film globetrotting from London to Moscow via the US and Afghanistan, audiences could be forgiven for thinking that the exhilarating thriller’s cast and crew were constantly country-hopping – in fact, it was shot almost entirely in the UK.

The huge benefits offered by the Film Tax Relief made shooting in the UK an attractive proposition, but it was the locations and production infrastructure that really gave the UK the edge.

Liverpool as you’ve never seen it before

When Chris Pine’s soldier-turned-spy is sent to Moscow by CIA handler Kevin Costner, director Kenneth Branagh was presented with a potential headache: “Moscow is an amazing city, but it’s a challenge to work in because it’s so big and so spread out…[Liverpool] was able to provide us with some old imperial Moscow”.

The city in the North West of England proved invaluable to the production team, with its commercial district doubling as Russia while the Birkenhead Tunnel was used for a breakneck Manhattan car-chase. Producer David Barron was quick to sing its praises: “Filming in Liverpool was a brilliant experience. Everybody made us welcome, we were able to do things with ease and a speed that is not generally possible in a big city”.

Beyond Merseyside, the film also shot on location in Nottinghamshire, Hertfordshire and London, utilising the UK’s diverse landscapes to create a film which flies around the world at dizzying speed.

And it wasn’t just the locations and tax relief that attracted the production team, with the film making use of the country’s world-class studios by utilising several stages at Pinewood and state of the art VFX houses in the capital. Production Designer Andrew Laws commented that “using a building in London and post-production visual effects we were able create something with a grandeur and glory very much like what is currently being built in Moscow’s new financial district”.

Britain’s talent showcase

Alongside Pine and Costner, Jack Ryan’s stellar cast includes British A-listers Keira Knightley and director Branagh, who also co-stars, but the production’s British ties run deeper.

The film’s producer, production designer, costume designer and VFX team make up just some of the film’s largely British crew. This dominance demonstrates the wealth of talent to be found in the UK, and reinforces its status as one of Hollywood’s favourite destinations.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
can be seen in cinemas nationwide. For more details, visit