Patriot Games (SE)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Ex-CIA agent Jack Ryan foils an Irish terrorist organization’s plan to assassinate a major British political figure, and with it, kills the younger brother of one of the group’s more erratic members. Vowing revenge on Ryan and his family, the nutty terrorist spends the better part of this film exacting that promise upon Ryan and his loved ones. Patriot Games ensue...
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
One of the most low-key and straightforward of all the Jack Ryan movies, PATRIOT GAMES is also one of the more all-around enjoyable installments from the series, with solid acting, a great pace, a number of action and thrilling sequences, as well as a plotline that delivers in both political undertones, as well as the emotional. Yes, we actually get to see actor Harrison Ford emote more than his basic “confused” look here, with moments of palpable emotional distress, specifically during the hospital scenes. But don’t let the family connection fool you into believing that this is a “softy” flick by any means, in fact, its final 30 minutes had me gnawing at my fingernails with some major suspense and plenty of all-out action. Which brings me to all of the players in this get-together, including the steady Ford, who once again, provides us with a believable “regular guy with smarts” character, Anne Archer, who plays the stand-by-your-man wife to a tee here, as well as their daughter, the tiny actress who would later go on to showcase her boobies in AMERICAN BEAUTY, Thora Birch.
The film also features Samuel L. Jackson, before he became just “Sam Jackson”, with a very small meatless part, a super-skinny Sean Bean, playing a great bad guy out for revenge, as well as a memorable turn by J.E. Freeman as Ford’s somewhat more cynical supervisor, Marty. Some of the elements that this film could have improved on though include its fairly simple story which sets up a “rat” in its midst, but does very little to hide this person’s identity, the addition of a total babe in the terrorist organization (the lovely Polly Walker) and looking back, a somewhat incompetent adversary to Jack Ryan and co (these folks sure know how to organize hits, but can they ever pull one off successfully?). But in the end, I thoroughly enjoyed myself throughout this entire movie with just enough style to pepper up the proceedings, plenty of emotional connection via its lead characters, a number of action-oriented adrenaline scenarios (the satellite desert attack is also one of its more original) and solid actors all making sure that we hang on for the entire ride. PS: I watched this whole movie and never once heard mention of any PATRIOT or GAMES. Did I miss something?
There isn’t a whole lot in this dvd’s extras department, save for its theatrical trailer and one 25-minute featurette entitled “Patriot Games Up Close”. This extra is actually quite interesting for any fan of the movie and features interviews with all of its main players including the writer, producer, director Phillip Noyce, as well as actors James Earl Jones, Anne Archer, and surprisingly, Harrison Ford himself (it’s rare to see a “big star” provide a new interview for these things). They discuss everything from how the film came to be, the casting decision of Ford over Alec Baldwin (who portrayed Ryan in THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER), as well as a number of specific action sequences from the picture. They also talk about the film’s original ending, which they ended up changing because it just didn’t work. A pretty enjoyable watch overall.
I consider PATRIOT GAMES to be one of the more digestible films of the Tom Clancy series, in that it can be watched by most anyone, from teenagers looking for a good time, adults looking for character development or political intrigue, as well as action hounds, Ford fans and more. The dvd doesn’t really give us much else, other than a pretty solid featurette filled with interviews, but if you’re a fan of the series, and certainly of this movie, I would heartily recommend that you add this thriller to your collection, especially with its inherently high rewatch value.