Patriot Games

Director: Philip Noyce
Screenplay: W. Peter Iliff and Donald Stewart (based on the novel by Tom Clancy)
Stars: Harrison Ford (Jack Ryan),Anne Archer (Cathy Ryan), Patrick Bergin (Kevin O’Donnell), Sean Bean (Sean Miller), Thora Birch (Sally Ryan),James Fox (Lord Holmes), Samuel L. Jackson (Robby), Polly Walker (Annette), J.E. Freeman (Marty Cantor), James Earl Jones (Admiral Greer), Richard Harris (Paddy O’Neil), Alex Norton (Dennis Cooley), Hugh Fraser (Watkins), David Threlfall (Inspector Highland)
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 1992
Country: U.S.
Jack Ryan 4K Box Set
Patriot Games

In Patriot Games, the second film adapted from Tom Clancy’s series of techno-thriller novels, Harrison Ford steps into the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan, who was first played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990). However, unlike Baldwin’s role, which was largely secondary to the domineering screen presence of Sean Connery as a Soviet submarine captain with mysterious intent, Ford owns Patriot Games in true movie star fashion, which changes the tone of the film quite dramatically. On the one hand, clear effort was made to emphasize Ryan’s intellect—he’s an analyst and historian, after all, not a dedicated field agent—but at the same time the film can’t help but elevate him to the level of action hero, crowning him in the film’s climactic action sequence set on a pair of racing motorboats tearing through a torrential rainstorm.

The film’s plot, in fact, is set in motion when Ryan instinctually acts as an action hero by single-handedly foiling an attempt by a radical offshoot of the IRA to kill a member of the Royal Family in the streets of London. Ryan, who has left the CIA, happens to be there for an academic speaking engagement, putting him in the wrong (or right?) place at the right time to risk life and limb to stop of the ski-mask-wearing terrorists from a very public assassination. He is wounded, but he manages to kill several of the terrorists, including the younger brother of Sean Miller (Sean Bean), a particularly volatile revolutionary who sets his sights on revenge, which puts Ryan’s family—his pregnant wife Cathy (Anne Archer) and elementary-age daughter Sally (Thora Birch)—in the crosshairs.

Thus, if The Hunt for Red October was a Cold War nail-biter with global-nuclear implications, Patriot Games is a more stripped drown, personal revenge thriller, with Ryan stepping into righteous vengeance mode after Sean puts his wife and daughter in the hospital. The bookish analyst gets gritty, at one point going toe to toe with IRA honcho Paddy O’Neil (Richard Harris) in, of all places, an Irish bar. The screenplay by W. Peter Iliff and Donald Stewart manages some balance in emphasizing Ryan’s analytical skills, with plenty of scenes of him sitting at computer desks surrounded by papers, pouring over files, and enhancing satellite photos, but the film is also constantly eager to furrow his brow and put a gun in his hand.

There are several action setpieces that work marvelously, including Sean’s attack on Cathy and Sally while they’re driving down a packed freeway and the cat-and-mouse sequence in the Ryans’ enormous house when the bad guys lay siege. Director Phillip Noyce, who had been directing both film and television in his native Australia since the early 1970s, but had only recently come to international prominence with his thriller Dead Calm (1989), was an inspired choice to replace John McTiernan, as he manages the action with verve and efficiency while also giving the film a more nuanced emotional sensibility, emphasizing Ryan as a father who above all wants to protect his family, not save the world, The film’s true stand-out action sequence, unfolds entirely on giant monitors via an infrared satellite video feed as an elite hit squad takes out a terrorist camp in North Africa. It’s a brilliantly suspenseful sequence, the culmination of Ryan’s analytical work to track down those who are trying to kill him, but it also plays as a gut-punch reminder of the ease with which violence can be inflicted and lives ended. While many in the room watch the monitors with the casual glee of people watching an action movie or a football game, Ryan is clearly disturbed by what’s happening because, after all, he instigated it. Every “kill” is a result of his work, and it gnaws at his sensibility, elevating him above typical action movie fare by emphasizing his sense of morality.

Patriot Games 4K UHD + Blu-ray

Aspect Ratio2.35:1
  • English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround
  • Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
  • German Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 surround
  • Hungarian Dolby Digital Mono
  • Polish Dolby Digital Mono
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital Mono
  • Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 surround
  • Subtitles English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
    SupplementsThe Hunt for Red October
  • Audio commentary by director John McTiernan
  • “Beneath the Surface” featurette
  • Trailer
  • Patriot Games
  • Patriot Games: Up Close” featurette
  • Trailer
  • Clear and Present Danger
  • Clear and Present Danger: Behind the Danger” featurette
  • Trailer
  • The Sum of All Fears
  • Audio commentary by director Phil Alden Robinson and cinematographer John Lindley
  • Audio commentary by director Phil Alden Robinson and novelist Tom Clancy
  • “The Making of The Sum of All Fears” featurette
  • “Creating Reality: The Visual Effects of The Sum of All Fears
  • Trailer
  • Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
  • Audio commentary by director Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura
  • “Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the Room” featurette
  • “Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar of Shadow Recruit” featurette
  • “Jack Ryan: A Thinking Man of Action” featurette
  • “Old Enemies Return” featurette
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • DistributorParamount Home Entertainment
    SRP$69.99 (box set)
    Release DateAugust 21, 2018

    All five films in the “Jack Ryan: 5-Film Collection” are presented in impressive new 4K UHD transfers that offer demonstrably stronger image quality than the previously available Blu-rays (which, I should mention, still look pretty good). The first four films in the series (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, and The Sum of All Fears) were scanned in 4K Dolby Vision (with 12-bit color) from the original camera negatives and given a new color pass that was supervised and approved by each film’s respective director (except for Red October, which was supervised by cinematographer Jan De Bont). Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is a direct digital port of the original HDR files. The images are sharper, clearer, and boast significantly better detail and stronger color, which is particularly evident in the older films. The new presentations really allow us to appreciate the development of the series’ visuals over time, from the definitive McTiernan style in The Hunt for Red October, which is heavy on shallow focus and lens flares, to Branagh’s sleek, metallic-hued Shadow Recruit. To Paramount’s credit, they don’t try to do anything unnecessary with the older films, allowing their celluloid origins to remain pleasingly noticeable. The first four films feature robust, lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1-channel surround soundtracks, while Shadow Recruit boasts a 7.1-channel DTS-HD Master Audio mix. The underwater sonics of Red October are impressively mounted in the surround channels, while the various explosions that occur in all the films have an appropriately thundering quality. Shadow Recruit, being the newest of the five films and the only one presented in 7.1, has the most active and densest soundtrack, although I was duly impressed with the immersive qualities of the speedboat chase in Patriot Games and the climactic battle in Clear and Present Danger, not to mention Harrison Ford and Donald Moffat’s subsequent war of words in the Oval Office.

    All of the supplements have been recycled from the previous DVD and Blu-ray editions. On The Hunt for Red October, we have an audio commentary by director John McTiernan, a trailer, and the 30-minute retrospective featurette “Beneath the Surface,” which includes circa-2003 interviews with McTiernan, producer Mace Nuefeld, screenwriter Larry Ferguson, and actors Alec Baldwin, James Earl Jones, and Sean Connery (whose interview was recorded on-set during production). There is no commentary on Patriot Games, but it does include a trailer and the half-hour retrospective featurette “Patriot Games: A Closer Look,” which includes interviews with director Phillip Noyce, producer Mace Neufeld, screenwriter W. Peter Iliff, and stars Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, and James Earl Jones. Similarly, Clear and Present includes only a trailer and the retrospective featurette “Clear and Present Danger: Behind the Danger,” which runs close to half an hour and includes interviews with most of the same personnel that appeared in the Patriot Games featurette. The Sum of All Fears has a much heavier set of supplements, beginning with not one, but two audio commentaries, the first by director Phil Alden Robinson and cinematographer John Lindley and the second by Robinson and novelist Tom Clancy, which makes this the only commentary on a Jack Ryan film to feature the character’s creator talking about the film. There are also two half-hour featurettes—“The Making of The Sum of All Fears” and “Creating Reality: The Visual Effects of The Sum of All Fears—and a trailer. Similarly, there is quite a bit more supplementary material on the Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit disc, starting with an informative audio commentary by director Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. We also get a quartet of featurettes: “Jack Ryan: The Smartest Guy in the Room” is a 14-minute look at how the character was reinvented for the new film that includes interviews with Branagh, actors Chris Pine and Kiera Knightley, and producer Mace Neufeld, among others; “Sir Kenneth Branagh: The Tsar of Shadow Recruit is a 10-minute love letter to Branagh as actor and director; “Jack Ryan: A Thinking Man of Action” is a 5-minute look at some of the film’s major action sequences; and “Old Enemies Return” is a surprisingly robust 21-minute look at the historical use of Russians as enemies in Hollywood films that includes interviews with several political scientists and historians. Finally, there are 5 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, including an alternate ending, all of which can be played with optional commentary by Branagh and di Bonaventura.

    Copyright © 2018 James Kendrick

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    Overall Rating: (3)

    James Kendrick

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