Phillip Noyce takes over for John McTiernan, Harrison Ford takes over for Alec Baldwin, and Tom Clancy’s techno-thriller follow-up to The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games finds its way onto the 101 Action Movies list.
Jack Ryan (Ford) and his family are on a working vacation in London, when he foils a kidnapping/assassination attempt on members of the royal family (in the original novel it was Prince Charles and Princess Diana) by a rogue splinter faction of the Irish Republican Army led by Sean Miller (Sean Bean). Ryan kills Miller’s brother during the sequence, and there the course is set for the rest of the movie, as Miller, busted out of prison by his confederates including Kevin O’Donnell (Patrick Bergin) and Annette (Polly Walker), begins a plan of revenge.
Under Noyce’s direction and Ford’s performance the film plays as a smart action-thriller of two men in a battle of wills both fighting for their families. Miller travels State-side and makes an almost lethal attempt on Ryan’s wife, Cathy (Anne Archer) and daughter, Sally (Thora Birch).
Beyond angry, Ryan returns to the employ of Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones) and the CIA, from there, Ryan tries to take the fight to Miller, and in an eerie sequence, Ryan watches via satellite as a team sweeps Miller’s training camp in north Africa as they put the government’s tech to work. Richard Harris plays IRA supporter, and spokesman, Paddy O’Neil, while Samuel L. Jackson plays Ryan’s good friend Ryan.
James Horner brings a highly enjoyable score to the film, as Ryan uses all the resources at his disposal to bring down Miller. Sean has one more plan, using his contacts he learns of Lord Holmes (Jame Fox) visit to America, as well as his planned stop at the Ryan household for a dinner to say thank you once again to Ryan for saving he and his family.
The film isn’t all action, chases and explosions, there is politics, and spying at work as well, with a huge cast of characters, giving the film a broad feel to it. Finally, in the final act, Miller lays siege to Ryan’s home, in the middle of a terrible storm, the power is out, and he and his cronies are stalking Ryan, his family, his guests, and the royals.
Ryan does his best to make sure his family is safe, before leading Miller on a final chase, away from the house and out onto the water as they chase one another down with speedboats.
While there were significant differences from novel to film, this Jack Ryan adventure is a strong and enjoyable entry on the 101 Action Movies list, and Ford is perfect as the family man pushed into battle by the threat to his family.
I’ve rather enjoyed all of Ryan’s outings on the big screen, a good techno-thriller is always a joy to watch, and both Noyce and Ford are in top form for this film, though the political maneuvering in the next Ryan outing is just as much fun to me.