Clear and Present Danger
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
CIA man Jack Ryan is asked to help the President of the United States better deal with the growing amount of drugs that are coming into his country via Columbia and its many powerful and violent cartels. When Ryan gets a little too involved in the specifics of the drug trade, he surprisingly discovers a little more than anyone would want to admit. A lot of clear and present danger ensues...
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
A decent piece of political intrigue with a tad of action, a dash of double-cross and plenty of drug-cartel happenings, but ultimately a little too long for its own good, with not a whole lot of character development or powerful conclusions (at least, when watched these days). Yes, the film does feature one of the cooler lines delivered to any President in any movie (“How dare you, sir!!”), but at the end of the day, the film seems a little too proud to prove that everyone in politics is a hypocrite (yes, including the man at the top), other than the very righteous Ryan, of course, with some high-end characters looking about as evil as one could—specifically Henry Czerny as Ritter the badass. Thankfully, the film does feature a little more interesting plotline that parallels all of the political stuff, most of which takes place in Columbia and its jungles, with one of the more charismatic actors in the biz, Willem Dafoe, taking us through the trenches. One major “street attack” sequence is also quite memorable, while the film’s final 20 minutes are particularly exciting as a drawn-out rescue takes place-- that’s besides the fact that it actually feels like a whole other movie by that point ("Jack Ryan: Action Hero!").
I thought Ford did a decent job of giving his character that “aw shucks, I don’t know much about much” look for most of the film (although he might’ve overplayed it somewhat—you do have some confidence in your abilities, don’t you?), but slapping him into the heat of the battle in the end was just plain goofy (the fact that he wouldn’t take his sunglasses off, also bothered me). The secondary cast, this time around, wasn’t as involved in the flick either, with Archer barely showing up for a scene or two (don’t blink because you’ll miss Benjamin Bratt as well), and nobody else specifically standing out (some characters who died about halfway through the film didn't affect me much because we barely knew who they were). The scenes with Earl Jones were very well done though, while the bad guy's right-hand man just reminded me too much of the late, great Phil Hartman, to take too seriously. But in the end, the film did keep me interested most of the way, provided for some more political insight and entertaining covert operations, and featured yet another engaging turn by Ford as Ryan. Not the best of the series, but certainly an entertaining motion picture. PS: Am I the only one who thought the President was played by James Cromwell? (who coincidentally enough played the Prez in the next installment of the Jack Ryan series: THE SUM OF ALL FEARS) Wow...Donald Moffat, you say?
Much like the PATRIOT GAMES "Collector's Edition" dvd, this disc contains only two specific items on its list of “extras”, the first being the basic 2-minute theatrical trailer, as well as a 26-minute featurette entitled “Clear and Present Danger: Behind the Danger”. The piece carries interviews with all of the principals including the producer and director, as well as many of the lead actors, including Ford himself. Lots of talk about the casting process ensues, as well as some behind the scenes shots of the filming, and specifics on the action scenes. Somewhat enlightening for anyone interested in some of the details behind the making of the movie.
A serviceable addition to the Jack Ryan series, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER isn’t going to win any awards for being the best of its bunch, but if politics, the “regular guy” righteousness of Jack Ryan and plotlines involving drug cartels are right up your cinematic alley, you most certainly will not be disappointed with most of what this film has to offer-- specifically anything to do with the man who is too cool to be simply named William…Willem Dafoe. The dvd itself with not blow anyone’s nuts off with only one semi-comprehensive featurette providing for some background, but if you’re a fan of the series, you might as well snag this puppy, since it certainly can be watched again in the future.