on October 26, 2003
So glad I'm in the good company of two top 10 Amazon reviewers in loving this movie. Thanks you all, for summarizing the storyline.
Erik North's (a top 1000 reviewer) review is pretty comprehensive in naming the actors, directors, etc. but he left out Benjamin Bratt (of Law & Order and Julia Roberts' Boy Toy fame) as the captain of the insertion team, and Raymondo Cruz as Ding.
The novel by the same name had Ding as the central character, and I was sorry that Ding had only a supporting role in the movie. However, the movie is GREAT entertainment in its own right.
Raymondo Cruz's Ding was sophisticated and touching. I especially liked his restrained satisfied expression after being selected for a mission that would let him name his own ticket afterwards.
Miguel Sandoval's performance as the ruthless drug lord, but loving family man, was nothing short of WONDERFUL. I especially liked his seamless transition from Spanish to English. Did you know that the production actually blew up that villa in which the drug lords were having a summit? Yes, they below up that nice house for for a few seconds worth of entertainment.
And why no mention of Joachim de Alameda, whose performance as the villain should have boosted his career, but didn't seem to have? His tortured expression just before killing his lover portrayed a depth of character that is a real bonus! The woman who played his lover was perfectly cast and wardrobed: spinster who is delighted and at the same time, frightened by her affair. The way Alameda phrased his lines with a credible Spanish accent was very nuanced -- a great performance.
The interleaving of formal, military funeral rites with the massacre of the insertion team was masterful -- only music and visuals, no dialog. The allusion to formal military honors also being conferred on the soldiers who were mowed down anonymously in the jungle was inspired. Such a cinematic device is more powerful than any narration or mind-numbing 'kill 'em all' sequence can deliver. Compliments to the film editor.
The integrated humor mark a new trend in action movies. Ryan asked his boozey helicopter pilot who was checking the manual and instrumentation of a newly purchasd craft "How much time do you have in this type?" The reply, after consulting his watch, was "9:30."
Donald Moffat's performance as the President could have greater dimension, and it overtly mimmicked Reagan, but that portrayal counters somewhat Clancy's accused conservative bias. A nod toward Hollywood liberalism? The whole movie, while upholding the courage and honor of American armed forces, rivals Oliver Stone in accusing the executive branch, from the president down, of corruption and betrayal. So even Lefties would find something to like about this movie.
The movie's opening sequence promises excellent action with compelling characters: the Coast Guard intercepts a hijacked private yacht and the teen-aged-looking and sounding FEMALE Coast Guard captain was commanding, and was obeyed! This movie engages the viewer on many levels: intellectual, political, visual, human, humorous and does it all entertainingly. Worth several viewings.
on July 25, 2003
As a long time fan of the many Tom Clancy's techno-thrillers, I was amazed at just how fine a job had been done in dramatizing the complex, quite literate, and endlessly evolving plot that Clancy used to such advantage in spinning "Clear And Present Danger", a story about how the intelligence and political communities intersect and overlap, often with disastrous results for the democratic process. Here the erstwhile Jack Ryan is thrust into the hot seat as his long-time mentor Admiral James Greer (played By James Earl Jones) is forced by health into taking sick leave and Ryan (Harrison Ford) is tapped to take his place as the Acting Deputy Director for Counter Intelligence (DCI) within the CIA. As such he is sucked into the somewhat murky effort to investigate the circumstances surrounding the grisly murder of a millionaire businessman who was a personal friend of the current President.
Ryan quickly discovers a Columbian drug connection, with one of the biggest and most dangerous cartels, and further traces what appears to be a money laundering operation that the dead entrepreneur was investing in legitimate businesses in the United States. Informed of this, the President quit publicly impounds the funds, and initiates a spiral of events that eventually spin way out of control. Thus, once again the game is afoot. Ryan must tread softly but quickly to counter the deft moves made by another CIA deputy director who is blindsiding the Agency while serving the President's National Security Advisor.
The game gets hotter and hotter, with so much action and so much suspense building up that it is impossible not to appreciate and enjoy. The is a wonderful film, one that will stir your patriotic juices as the same time it raises your pulse rooting for Ryan to right the grievous wrongs perpetrated on some American special forces troopers who are intentionally stranded in-country to fend for themselves as they find themselves caught in the middle of the quickly changing political and strategic circumstances. Harrison Ford is terrific as Jack Ryan, reprising his takeover of it in "Patriot Games".
Also superb (as usual) is Willem Defoe playing John "Jack" Clark, our man on the ground in Columbia, and relative newcomer Joaquim de Almeida as the deadly head of security for the Escobedia family cartel. Miguel Sandoval is convincingly menacing as the cartel's front man Ernesto Escobedia. Of course, the photography and special effects are masterful and heighten the degree of suspense and realism of the quickly transpiring action sequences. I. This is a spy-thriller of the first magnitude, one I have watched again and again for it is such eye-candy and so exciting that I find myself caught up in it each time I sit down to enjoy it. I hope you will too. Enjoy!
This is one of two films based on Clancy's novels which really work, the other being The Hunt for Red October. It is certainly far superior to Patriot Games in terms of plausibility and cohesion of narrative, quality of acting, exploration of central issues, and ultimate resolution of various conflicts. I do think the escape by helicopter from one drug lord's compound was overdone but the film concludes appropriately with Ryan's final conversation with President Bennett (Donald Moffatt) and then his arrival at the subcommittee hearing chaired by Senator Mayo (Hope Lange). I still would have preferred that Alec Baldwin continue as Jack Ryan but concede that Harrison Ford is far more credible in this film than he was in Patriot Games, perhaps because he and his colleagues were working with a much better screenplay, one on which John Milius collaborated with Donald E. Stewart and Steve Zaillian. (It should be noted that Stewart and Zaillian also collaborated on the screenplay and must share at least some of the blame for Patriot Games' inadequacies. Both films were also directed by Phillip Noyce, another accomplice.) Having the President of the United States actively involved in Danger's narrative gives it a unique substance, to be sure, but also affords valuable opportunities to explore moral corruption and political expediency at the highest levels of government.
There are several outstanding performances, including Moffatt's in a difficult role as is Henry Czerny's as Robert Ritter, deputy director of the C.I.A. and Ryan's principal adversary; also Willem Dafoe as Clark and Harris Yulin as Cutter. Anne Archer reprises her do-nothing-but-beam role as Cathy Ryan, adoring wife; James Earl Jones also reprises his role as Admiral James Greer whose health problems deny Ryan his mentor and friend's assistance when needed most. This is a "techno-thriller" in several respects but its special effects are almost never gratuitous. An important sub plot involves Moira Wolfson (Ann Magnuson) who is the F.B.I. director's administrative assistant and a key source of classified information which she provides to Felix Cortes (brilliantly played by Joaquim DeAlmeida) whom she believes to be a reputable businessman, not knowing that he is a key operative for one of the Colombian drug lords. Wolfson loves Cortes to death, literally.
Lots of well-staged action, including an ambush of the F.B.I. director and his entourage, another ambush of American troops in the jungle (a callous and bloody betrayal by their government), a missile attack on the drug lords and their families, and the final helicopter escape by Ryan and Clark. As in The Hunt for Red October, the story line sustains the film's momentum, aided by generally solid performances. I do not consider this film an indictment of any specific administration or foreign policy. Clancy is primarily a storyteller, not a polemicist. The United States will continue to have clear and present dangers no matter who is in the White House. When this film was first released (in 1994), one reviewer suggested that it was inspired in part by some of former C.I.A. director William Casey's elaborate schemes for secret operations against the drug lords. (I have no idea whether or not that is true.) In any event, I find this a thoroughly entertaining, well-made film and look forward to seeing it again.
on July 2, 2003
(I wrote this for the original, out of stock version)
Clear and Present Danger (1994 film)
The third film in the Jack Ryan series (and the last one to star Harrison Ford) deals with America's war on drugs and also the abuse of power in high places. As in Clancy's original novel, the plot hinges on one crucial question: how far can a President go to achieve a laudable goal, even if the means cross moral, legal and international boundaries?
As in the novel of the same name, the interception of an American-flagged yacht in the Caribbean results in the arrest of two Colombian "sicarios" (hit men) who have murdered the American owner (along with his entire family). The resulting FBI-CIA investigation reveals that Peter Hardin, the late yacht owner and personal friend of the U.S. President (Donald Moffat), had extensive ties to the Cali drug cartel. Hardin, as Jack Ryan (Ford) explains, had been skimming millions from his "partners," thus sealing his fate.
Although Ryan is aware that the President is understandably upset that his late friend was a money launderer for the drug lords, he is not aware that the National Security Advisor, Admiral James Cutter (Harris Yulin) and his CIA colleague Bob Ritter (Henry Czerny) have been given off-the-record orders to do "something about the drugs pouring into the country." When the President declares to Cutter that the drug cartels pose a "clear and present danger" to the United States, the somewhat slimy admiral and Ritter unleash several covert operations within the sovereign nation of Colombia.
While Ryan does get orders to go to Bogotá and find out about Hardin's financial dealings with the Cali Cartel, he is totally unaware that Cutter and Ritter have launched Operation Reciprocity, a clandestine invasion of Colombia by Spanish-speaking special-ops troops. These forces, supervised by ex-CIA field officer John Clark (Willem Dafoe), wreak havoc as they blow up drug labs and smuggling aircraft. Nevertheless, Cutter and Ritter keep Ryan in the dark, and the upright analyst and now acting Deputy Director (Intelligence) unknowingly tells a Senate subcommittee that there are no troop deployments planned for Colombia.
Further complicating Ryan's life is the sudden discovery that his boss and mentor, Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones), is dying of cancer. Little does he know that his ascent to Greer's job will propel Ryan into the middle of a life and death situation in Colombia...and a constitutional crisis at home.
What makes the Jack Ryan books and movies work is not just the slam-bam action sequences or the glimpses at the mysterious workings of the CIA, but the very notion that a CIA employee can be portrayed as an honorable and decent fellow. Tom Clancy clearly desired to show that the agents and analysts who work for the CIA are not the "dark forces" depicted in films such as "Three Days of the Condor" or "Firefox." Nor are they martini-swilling, trigger happy, bed-hopping super-spies like James Bond. Ford (like Alec Baldwin before him, and like Ben Affleck after) shows Ryan has intelligence, courage, and, above all, integrity.
As in Patriot Games, Ford also shares a few short yet important scenes with his wife and two children. Ann Archer and Thora Birch returned to play Ryan's wife Cathy and daughter Sally, giving Ryan that most un-Bond-like sense of family and a tie to the audience.
Although the screenplay by Donald Stewart, Steven Zaillan, and John (Red Dawn) Millius strip the huge and complex Clancy novel to its bare essentials and changes many scenes and situations, Ford's acting and Philip Noyce's able directing makes Clear and Present Danger a top-notch action thriller. Even though as in Patriot Games the ending is rendered in a good-guy vs. bad-guy shootout (whereas in the novel the ending for the villains was more subtle and thereby more chilling), this movie is still worth watching.
The DVD I own is Paramount's first barebones release. Of course, even that is an improvement over the pan-and-scan "full screen" VHS tape I had previously owned. The movie has been restored to its original Widescreen presentation, given Dolby digital audio in both English and French, Spanish subtitles, English captions, interactive menus, and the theatrical trailer. The newer version has commentary tracks, making-of featurettes, and other extras.
on June 29, 2003
This is a very well done film version of Tom Clancy's novel of the same name, which features his trademarked hero, Jack Ryan. Harrison Ford really has the Jack Ryan character down pat, and turns in his customary excellent performance. As always, James Earl Jones plays his part, as the CIA director, to perfection.
The storyline here is far more complex than the two earlier Jack Ryan films, which caused me to worry that the film would either sacrifice important elements of the novel, or become so convoluted that most viewers would have difficulty following the story. Neither occurs--the movie tells a complicated political/adventure story in a crisp and coherent fashion that retains the viewer's interest. This is a very fine film.
The basic premise is simple enough--the President decides to insert US forces into Columbia to take out certain elements of the drug cartels operating there. This is done without any permission/authorization from Congress and is therefore illegal. As might be expected, not everything goes according to plan. And of course Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) has to straighten things out. Therein lies a fast-paced and interesting story that parallels in some ways the conflict between Congress and President Reagan in the 1980s as regards the Nicaraguan Sandinistas and the Contras.
The DVD is excellent, with very good color and sound. Fans of Ford, Tom Clancy, or simply those who like fast-paced political action thrillers will want to include this DVD in their collections.
on May 12, 2003
Clear And Present Danger is the third Tom Clancy novel, featuring hero Jack Ryan, to be made into a movie. The story deals with the war on drugs and corruption in the government. The end result is a better film than Patriot Games, taking its cues more from the original novel, than that film did.
Former CIA analyst Jack Ryan, (Harrison Ford) is asked by his mentor and friend, Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones) to take over for him, while he battles cancer. Ryan reluctantly accepts. When a friend of the President's (Donald Moffatt) is killed, Ryan learns that a drug kingpin (Miguel Sandoval) may be responsible, for the crime. As he briefs the President, forces inside the administration, are working to take the cartel out, even without any proof. Ryan must discover the truth, about who is working against him before it's too late
The cast also includes the great Henry Czerny as Ritter, a smarmy guy at the CIA who butts heads with Ryan, Harris Yullin as the National Security Advisor, and Anne Archer returns as Cathy, Jack's wife. Directed by Philip Noyce, who also directed Patriot Games, the film stays within the framework of the book. The movie also is detailed enough to keep fans of the book happy, while at the same time it is nicely paced Ford proves once again why he's so right for roles like this. He wears his hero hat so well. It is Czerny though, that makes things really interesting for Ryan and, he gives the film an extra spark or two.
As part of the reissued "Jack Ryan" series on DVD, Clear And Present Danger, contains a retrospective featurette on how the film was made. It's pretty good and does a decent job taking you back, to what it was like on the set. The standard theatrical trailer tops off the extras. I wish there was a commentary track to go along with the other stuff--or maybe some deleted footage-that would have helped.
Still the DVD is recommended over the "movie only" edition from a few years ago
on May 10, 2003
There's just no polite way of saying this, so here goes. When Paramount DVD first issued "Clear and Present Danger" the transfer quality was...well...gosh darn awful. In fact it had to rank up there with the worst transfers I had ever seen. Now we get the new and improved, second "special" edition of this cloak and dagger thriller.
Based on the novel by Tom Clancy, Harrison Ford is Jack Ryan, a professor and retired CIA agent who gets thrown back into the hopper when he accidentally becomes involved in a terrorist plot to assassinate one of England's Royals. The plot has heavily dated. It centers around a drug cartel and CIA agent, Jack Ryan's mission to infiltrate and stop the spread of massive drug trading into the U.S. Yeah - right!
This latest transfer from Paramount Home Entertainment really isn't as much of an improvement as one would have hoped for. Almost gone are the excessive aliasing, shimmering and edge enhancement, abundantly present on the original DVD - but not entirely. Pixelization still plagues many of the outdoor scenes and long shots. But of more concern is the color balancing. At times flesh tones appear too pink or orange. Fine details are completely lost in the dark scenes while they occasionally appear digitally harsh during some of the day scenes. Overall the color scheme is muted, dull and muddy with a bland characteristic. Several scenes are also plagued by an opaque haze that weakens black and contrast levels. Film grain, nicks, chips and scratches are blatantly apparent throughout and, while they don't distract, they really don't add anything to the viewing experience either. The audio is presented in both 5.1 and DTS. Both versions are almost identical with the DTS bumping up the bass levels a notch. Still, at times voices seem to be centered too directly into the center speaker with little to no ambiance spread across the other channels. Some effects and screams crackle the sound field and are strident and grating on the ear.
EXTRAS: We get a comprehensive documentary that covers all the bases and a theatrical trailer. This is Paramount doing its bare bones best and it's disappointing.
BOTTOM LINE: Yes, this is the preferred DVD of this movie. But it's still not the way I'd prefer to watch it.
on January 9, 2003
The third installment in the cinematic series based on Tom Clancy's CIA analyst Jack Ryan, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is a long but engrossing political action thriller that once again puts Harrison Ford, the thinking man's action film actor, in the role of Ryan.
This time around, Ford investigates the murder of a close friend of the President (Donald Moffatt) by Colombian drug cartel hitmen. When his mentor (James Earl Jones) falls ill due to pancreatic cancer, Ford is suddenly put in charge as deputy director of the CIA. He continues his investigation of the murders and ties them in with one particular drug cartel leader (Miguel Sandoval) with whom the murdered man had a little issue with ill-gotten money,....
But what Ford doesn't know is that, on orders from the revenge-minded Moffatt, his second deputy (Henry Czerny) and the president's national security advisor (Harris Yulin) have ordered a rogue officer named Clark (Willem Dafoe) in with a covert military team to put a huge dent in the cartel's activities. Dafoe and his team are successful at what they do, but the cartels retaliate with deadly results on Ford's friends in the FBI during a visit to Bogota. And when Ford finds out about the operation, he finds himself going down to Colombia a second time to help spirit Dafoe and the covert team out of harm's way.
Ably directed, once more, by Phillip Noyce (DEAD CALM; PATRIOT GAMES), CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER gives Ford another chance to prove his mettle in the action genre. The suspense and CIA intrigue are all laid out exceptionally well by Noyce and his first-rate cadre of screenwriters, Donald Stewart, Steven Zaillian, and John Milius. Jones is at his usual best as the now-dying Admiral Greer, and Anne Archer returns as Ford's wife.
But a performance really worth noting here is Czerny's as the unconsciously corrupt CIA deputy director Robert Ritter. About as uncouth and conniving a heavy as there has ever been in the movies, his performance is absolutely chilling and believable. It makes the whole notion of our government going beyong reasonable bounds even more credible than it already is.
Some will object to the film not pandering to Clancy's right-wing political points of view or his gung-ho pro-military stance, but that isn't necessarily what this movie is about. It does not condemn covert military action, but it does question the wisdom of sending men into a war zone where the risks are extreme, the reasons for such actions are vague at best, and there is no clear exit strategy. Such points are made extremely well in this film's action format; and for those reasons, it gets the highest marks.
on July 19, 2002
Philip Noyce's vision of Tom Clancy's CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is a grand one. The viewer is swept into two different worlds, each equally sinister and secretive. Each world is displayed beautifully, but with an edge of roughness about it. Harrison Ford is great in this picture that is a great end to an "intelligent" action trilogy. Buy CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER today!
After an American businessman and friend of the president is murdered in the Carribean, it is up to the intelligence forces to solve the heinous crime. This investigation takes new deputy director Jack Ryan on a journey through the vast world of drug cartels and the deadly game of Washington and Bogota politics. Director Noyce brings to this film a grit that Clancy's novel has, quite commendable. All in all, this is a wonderful picture that needs to be viewed.
This film has a few flaws. Firstly, bad Latin accents and a slippery American one from Donald Moffat (the President) take away from scenes at times. Secondly, at times, the "menacing" drug lords come off as somewhat bufoonish. However, that said, this is still a great film that a fan of action, politics, and drama should own. This age 15+ picture is a must have, buy it today!
on June 4, 2002
The Jack Ryan films continue their timeliness with CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. The 1994 entry has Harrison Ford return for his second outing, this time to battle Columbian drug lords and political scandal right up to the oval office. This time the stakes aren't as large as Red October (global warfare), nor are they as small as Patriot Games (The Ryan family safety.) Now, a little revenge results in a secret rescue mission putting Ryan into many awkward situations.
When Ryan's mentor Admiral Greer (The wonderful James Earl Jones in a formulaic twist in character) is taken ill, Ryan reluctantly takes his job. The new responsibility causes problems in South America as the US President escalates the battle on drugs. It also causes problems at the CIA headquarters when power struggles put Ryan into serious peril.
Director Philip Noyce delivers another film similar to PATRIOT GAMES. A scene where Ryan's convoy is ambushed on a South American street is brilliantly executed and tense. He again shows a playful game of intelligence chess, but this time the film culminates in a Rambo style rescue. Harrison Ford starts the film as a lighter Ryan with occasional humorous remarks. A new son Alexander Lester as John Ryan, Jr joins Anne Archer and Thora Birch. But their roles are only for continuity. Willem Dafoe is a former agent whose character keeps the audience guessing.
This was Harrison Ford's final installment in the sturdy Jack Ryan films. The next film would star Ben Affleck as Ryan. But, this DVD is only A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER. The audio transfer is excellent but the video transfer leaves something to be desired in the darker scenes.