Clear And Present Danger (1994) – Phillip Noyce

 

Jack Ryan in the person of Harrison Ford returns to the 101 Action Movies list along with Patriot Games director Phillip Noyce in this adaptation of the Tom Clancy techno-thriller.

This time out Jack is serving as the acting Deputy Director of Intelligence for the CIA while his boss, Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones) is restricted to a hospital for cancer.

Jack finds himself wrapped up in a political storm as the president (Donald Moffat), upon learning that one of his closest friends was in bed with Colombian drug cartels, ups the ante on the war on drugs by sending in a twelve man unit led by John Clark (Willem Dafoe) on a black-ops mission known as Reciprocity.

Focused more on telling the truth than playing politics, Ryan missteps and finds himself in South America and subject to a brutal ambush. This, as well as a missile attack on a gather of drug lords which causes unexpected collateral damage causes those in power to seek out a deal with one of the drug dealers top lieutenants, Felix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida), who has not only been playing off several of the drug lords against each other, but offers to reduce the drug import as well as giving those in power a cut, if they’ll give him the location of the ops team.

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The further Jack gets involved the more he realizes that neither side is playing by the rules, nor are they above-board, it’s all about money, politics and power.

And Jack isn’t happy about that at all.

He serves a higher ideal, he really is a boy-scout, and as such, the Deputy Director of Operations Ritter (Henry Czerny), James Cutter (Harris Yulin), one of the president’s top advisers and the president himself are willing to use him as a scapegoat for the entire affair.

Ryan is more than willing to pull them all down, even if it ruins his own name, but first he has to head to South America and find a way to rescue Clark and his team.

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Now undeniably, there is a bit of flag waving going on in this movie, but it’s in the person of Ryan as opposed to the people it should be, and I mean the ones in political office by that. But Harrison brings such a level of seriousness to the role that you can take it in stride.

Yes, there is politics, but the action sequences when they come along are intense, the ambush sequence is incredibly brutal, and the rescue is tightly crafted. One of my favorite sequences though, perfectly scored by James Horner, is when Ryan is snooping Ritter’s computer, and calls the DDO on the phone to distract him from noticing… tense.

This, sadly, was Ford’s last outing as Ryan, but it’s a strong entry not only as a techno-thriller but as a fun action movie, showing that it doesn’t always have to be blowing stuff up, it can actually have a bit more substance and story to it.

Do you have a favorite Clancy novel?

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