CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
Film review by Gordon Justesen
Technical specs by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer, James Earl Jones
Director: Phillip Noyce
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: See Review
Length: 141 Minutes
Release Date: July 29, 2008
“You see everything in black and white.”
“Not black and white, RIGHT and WRONG!”
When I am asked
which of the Jack Ryan movies is my absolute favorite, I never hesitate with my
response. While I can easily say that The
Sum of All Fears and Hunt For Red
October tie for second, my top favorite of the series has, is, and probably
will always be Clear and Present Danger.
I feel that this entry in the Jack Ryan adventures has a certain level of
authenticity and epic quality that surpasses the other films. The story has many
layers to it, the settings spread from one part of the globe to another, with
pivotal story events occurring simultaneously, and the very political strategy
behind the events in the story is rather mind-boggling in a way. This may have
you thinking differently about how political power in America is executed.
returns as Jack Ryan, whose life is back to normal following the trauma he and
his family suffered in Patriot Games.
Following the news that his longtime mentor, Greer (James Earl Jones), has been
diagnosed with terminal cancer, Ryan discovers, much to his surprise, that he
will be appointed as Deputy Director of the CIA. He is hesitant at first about
filling in such big shoes, but he proceeds anyway. Little does he know that once
sworn in, he will be in the middle of a horrendous cover up, devised by the very
drug-related slaying of someone who was very close to the President, a covert op
is constructed by two of the Presidents highest ranking associates, Ritter
(Henry Czerny), head of the CIA and Cutter (Harris Yulin), National Security
Advisor. Ritter personally assigns a contract mercenary named Clark (Willem
Dafoe) to lead an elite team into the jungles of Columbia to wipe out the drug
cartel responsible for the assassination. It will manage to become a complicated
matter when Ryan, who after being sworn in, has agreed to not send any troops
into South America, gets involved.
Bogotá, drug lord Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval) is happy about the results
of the slaying which he ordered, while his right hand man, Felix Cortez (Joaquim
De Almeida), is frequently opposed to the way which his boss handles his
business. As it turns out, the victim who was friends with the President left
behind $650 million in an offshore account, which is no doubt drug money. When
Escobedo learns that this money is being held by the President, he is furious,
claiming it is being stolen from him. It also isn’t helping Escobedo that the
very covert op that Clark was sent on is inevitably destroying the drug lord’s
market. These two factors seem to ignite a deadly, but very covert battle,
between both countries.
When assigned to
visit Colombia to find any connection between the slaying and possible funding
from drugs, Ryan, along with members of the FBI and Secret Service, are targeted
by renegade Columbians, in an astonishing action sequence. Up against an army of
extremist armed with machine guns and missile launchers, Ryan, who’s cohorts are
wiped out, must elude unarmed by way of driving a caravan, which is literally in
flames, out of dangerous territory.
It is here where
Ryan discovers the possibility of being set up. It’s not too long after that
when he suspects some wrong doings in the very office he works in, which may
lead all the way to the highest level of power, but even this doesn’t prevent
Ryan from proceeding to do justice and bring the truth to light.
Of all the films in
the Jack Ryan series, this one certainly has something of novel feel to it,
which is one of the big factors in its overall quality. I like the way the film
cuts between settings at just the right time to show pivotal events taking
place. Between Washington, Columbia, and the South American jungle, we are given
glimpses of important stuff at the exact point and time it is needed to be
discovered. I really feel this deserved an Oscar nomination for Film Editing.
Directed with top
flight sharpness by Phillip Noyce (Patriot
Games), Clear and Present Danger
is one of those movies that grabs you and never lets go. The marvelous script
adaptation by Donald Stewart, Steve Zaillian and John Milus is, I think, among
the best delivered for any mainstream thriller, and Harrison Ford, being nearly
overshadowed by other events in the movie, manages to still come out strong and
on top as Jack Ryan. It also features a strong supporting cast, including a
standout performance from Henry Czerny, who finds the right tone of
despicability to his role.
Clear and Present Danger is
the high point of the Jack Ryan series, for me at least, and remains the best of
the series, and possibly will be for years to come, despite how many additional
movies will be made.
Clear and Present Danger is looking more "clear" and "present" than ever on Blu-ray. The high definition transfer is absolutely striking, as the level of detail and action from scene to scene comes across with terrific clarity and sharpness. Contrast and coloring are particularly good throughout.
Paramount has done
well with all of their Jack Ryan films on Blu-ray in the audio department.
The True HD mix is more dynamic and razor sharp than you remembered, with a lot
more bass punch and more subtle uses of ambience to go along with the
action-packed crossover effects.
Like the disc for
Patriot Games, the extras department is something of a letdown, as all that
is supplied is a well constructed featurette, “Behind the Danger”, and a
Clear and Present Danger is as explosive a political/high tech thriller as you will come across, and this Blu-ray delivers all the high definition style you would hope for.