Clear and Present Danger (1994)

clear and present danger IMDb

I finally figured out why I’m not loving this Jack Ryan character. He’s such a crusader for truth, justice, and the American way that it renders him boring and one dimensional. Where’s the edge? I mean, this guy is literally wrapped in the American flag on the movie poster. It’s fitting for a guy who is always on the side of right, where everything is black and white. But real life is much, much messier.

This time around Ryan is up against a Columbian drug cartel that (spoiler alert) is involved in a conspiracy with the US government that goes all the way to the president. Jack Ryan runs and shoots and frantically accesses computer files before they’re deleted to save the day. It’s much like Patriot Games, but with less of Ryan’s family.

My thoughts on Clear and Present Danger are much the same as they were for Patriot Games. This is a fun movie to watch, but it bears little resemblance to The Hunt for Red October. This and the previous installment are far cries from being dumb action flicks, but I feel like they could have been a lot smarter. Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan is definitely presented as an intelligent man, the stories he’s thrust into seem to lack that intellectual spark that set Red October apart. It feels like Present Danger and Patriot Games opted for the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach; instead of setting themselves apart from the typical action/thriller, they tried to make the movies more like everything else.

In saying all that, I would watch this again. The movie is entertaining, I’ll give it that. And of course Harrison Ford delivers despite the Jack Ryan character feeling more and more like an old school superhero devoid of any personality.

Rating: B

I first saw this film as a child and it really did go over my head. I did not like it anywhere near as much as Patriot Games. As an adult, watching this tense thriller again, I can definitely appreciate it more. Usually when we are watching a film I will have an iPad in front of me, or some other distraction, but for the finale of Clear and Present Danger I could not look away to see if Jack Ryan and his friends escaped. It was riveting.

The third Jack Ryan story begins with one of the US president’s close friends being killed by a South American drug cartel. The president decides that he must get revenge for his friend and orders a black ops operation to take out these drug lords, although in doing so, he is also helping a rival come to power. The American government organises an under the table arrangement where they will be able to make regular arrests of nobody who is relevant, but otherwise stay out of their operation when they try to import drugs to America. If the general public got wind of this situation it would be terrible for the current administration, which includes Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford). Ryan has recently been appointed head of the CIA and when he gets wind of this morally ambiguous deal the president is setting up, he can’t stand for it. Ryan heads down to South America to stop the coup being orchestrated, and get some unwitting American soldiers out of the country.

This story is pretty complicated, which is probably why it did not grab 12 year old Ben the way Patriot Games did. Now that my brain can handle something so intricate, I really loved this film. Ford is again great as Jack Ryan. I really loved the tense thriller on show here as Ryan must decide who he can trust when even the president is in on this massive conspiracy. As I mentioned, the finale is so tense you cannot look away from the screen. It is riveting seeing Ryan try and bust his way of the mansion of the would be leader of a drug cartel.

Clear and Present Danger is a tense political thriller and a worthy follow up to the fantastic Patriot Games.

Rating: B+

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