Clear and Present Danger (1994)

What has this Ryan dude got himself into now??!?!?

After saving his family and the Prime Minister of England from a slew of crazy Irishmen, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is now an assistant to the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence when all of a sudden, his longtime friend Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) is diagnosed with cancer. This is tragic news for both Greer and Ryan, but both know that a job has to be done, so that’s when Ryan decides to take over the job as the Deputy Director of Intelligence, where he is assigned his first assignment: Recover $650 million from the Colombian drug cartels that was left over there by one of the President’s good buddies. Ryan is more than willing to complete the task, but he finds out that there is more brewing beneath the surface than just some money being needed. Apparently, some of the President’s closest advisers are involved with these same said drug cartels and want to keep on continuing to make more money, while also getting rid of Ryan and his boy scout-ways. However, as we found out before, Ryan doesn’t go down easy and won’t back down from a challenge, no mater whom it may be coming from.

Patriot Games was no beauty, but it was at least a relatively small, inspired and taut thriller that worked well when it was showing off the mechanics of the technology that surrounds Ryan and his skills, rather than the fists he uses in fights. And compared to this movie, it was a hell of a lot shorter, clocking in at less than two-hours which, still felt long, but nowhere near as long as a near-two-and-a-half-hour movie like the one we have here, which makes this one feel like any other sequel out there: Overlong, over-exposed, over-stuffed, and worst of all, over-directed.

I wouldn't advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that's just me.
I wouldn’t advise somebody turning their back on Willem Dafoe, but that’s just me.

But while I do feel like director Phillip Noyce got his vision better this time with the action, there’s still a weird feeling with the story that didn’t quite keep me as interested here as it did with the last movie. For instance, the novelty of the first movie where it was just this one situation, with these handful of characters, felt like it was a smaller, more-intimate thriller, for lack of a better term. It made you feel as if you were right there in the moment, with these characters, figuring out what was going on, how they were going to solve it and whether or not they were all going to make it out alive. Problem is, that was when Jack Ryan was just a small-timer in the CIA, but now, he’s taking orders directly from the Big Man himself, which already means that the issues are going to be expanded and a whole lot more jumbled.

That’s why I can’t get too pissed at this movie for giving me a story that covers a larger map of where it goes and how, but I can be pissed off at the fact that it was just so damn convoluted. It seems like with any movie that concerns politics, there’s always got to be a slew of lies, deceptions and back-stabbings, which is exactly what we get here, however, there’s just so many that you lose count of who is screwing who over, and why. In fact, half of the people whose names were said, I couldn’t really match the faces with, all because the movie would focus on this one character for a couple minutes, have them leave and then, all of a sudden, let us know that that character was an important player in the rest of the proceedings we were about to be a witness of.

Think Miller’s Crossing’s Mink, but instead of one character played by Steve Buscemi, you have ten different ones, all played by people less charming and lovable as creepy blue eyes.

So, in essence, when the movie does begin to get closer and closer to its climax, it became to be such a chore for me to keep up with who was who, what they were doing, for what reasons and what the major ramifications of them were. That’s why I just gave up and decided to enjoy the action. Which, no surprise whatsoever, was a smart decision on my part because Noyce definitely got that part of the movie down perfectly. Not only does the action come at you at a full 100 mph, but it also feels very tense, as if the whole movie leading up to it was meant for just this one moment. They aren’t action scenes just thrown in there because they were needed, they feel like they enhance the story and keep it moving at a nice pace. That’s what I wish I saw more in my action movies, but I highly doubt I’ll get. So be it.


And, like usual, it’s always a joy to see Harrison Ford acting in a actioner, regardless of who he’s playing, and his second outing as Jack Ryan, shows that he never gets old as the character, even if he is getting a bit old himself. Once again, Ryan’s less of a bad-ass, and more of a smarty pants who knows what to do at any situation and, if he has to, will get his hands dirty. Ford definitely shows no signs of slowing down with this character, which is why I feel like he could have gone on and did ten more of these movies, and we’d still have a great time with him. However, like what seems to be the case for many major motion-picture franchises nowadays, Ben Affleck came, he saw, and he conquered. That Boston bastard.

The most disappointing aspect behind this flick is even while it does put all of this focus on all of these numerous subplots, characters and emotions, we never really get to see much of Anne Archer or Thora Birch as Ryan’s wife and daughter respectively. Makes sense since this movie is more about the government and its non-stop clusterfucks, and less about the family-dynamic inside the Ryan household, but still, a little bit more development would have been perfect. Especially since Archer, even with her shortened screen-time, shows that she’s still a cool wife that’s willing to take the fact that her hubby could die at any second, and she’d be the one to take over the fam-squad. God, that woman sure is a breath of fresh air that I so desperately need in my life. Tired of all these young bimbos. They don’t know shit about the 70’s like my girl Anne does.

Consensus: Like most mainstream sequels usually are, Clear and Present Danger is quite overblown, loud and excessive to the point of where it’s numbing, but still does feature some fun and exciting moments amongst all of the numerous subplots that are hard to keep track of, characters that we don’t care about and less-focus on the ones we do care about, meaning the rest of Ryan’s family, including the new baby boy!

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Jack's still got it. Oh, and so does Harry.
“Knew I should have taken the keys out.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB


  1. I think this film was much better than Patriot Games not just because of its exploration on corruption but also the presence of Willem Dafoe as he is one of the guys that Ryan needed to trust as he too is swindled by the powers that be.

  2. I am going to be honest, I hope this Jack Ryan character is forgotten about eventually. This new attempt with Chris Pines will have nothing on the likes of Harrison Ford. By the way, I fully understand your love for Annie Archer. She is something else, in terms of movie wives.

  3. You’ve got a great review on this film here dude. Really nailed the point that this is nearly a headache of a movie thanks to it’s excessive running time, endddddddless characters and plot convolutions (to the point where you want to upchuck), but with a great performance from Harrison Who, and a couple others, this film doesn’t quite sink under it’s bloated ego. Great write-up man, one of your best.

    • Thanks, man! It’s exactly what you’d expect from a mainstream sequel, without much of the charm from the first. Budgets must have gotten in the way, I guess.

  4. I remember liking this a lot more than Patriot Games, but it’s been a while. I know that it had a few really strong action set pieces, plus Ford giving the stink eye to the president at the end. It was very complicated, though. It’s been fun to follow your run through these movies.

  5. Fine review Dan – however I don’t agree about:

    A) your rating Patriot Games as better than this one
    B) Too many subplots
    C) Not enough time spent on Ford/Ryan’s family

    That’s just my opinion,

    Beyond the details of the specific reviews I must give reward points for the posting of Red October, Pat Games, and C&P Danger at this time and in that order. These films are not in theatrical release now, and possibly have not been broadcast lately ( to the best of my knowledge), so it was a lot of fun revisiting them.

    Which means I am eager to read your review of the new Jack Ryan with Pine opening on Friday.

  6. While it’s not my favorite Jack Ryan flick (Hunt for Red October covers that), I thought this was a slightly above mediocre thriller. Although it’s always good to see Willem Dafoe! You definitely covered the film well in your review. Also, was that a The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly reference above? Because that’s awesome.

  7. Well we’re in a disagreement here, I thought this film was way better than Patriot Games. I understand that the plot might sound too convoluted and too many characters were introduced but remember it’s based on a 650 page novel and I thought the screenwriters did a great job of condensing it to 2 and half hours film. The book was one of my favorite in the Jack Ryan series and even though the film didn’t quite deliver, I still think it’s one of the best action thrillers of the 90s. The only complaint I have is that the climatic action sequence was awfully staged and shot; I wish they stayed more faithful to the book’s climatic sequence, it would’ve been epic!

    • Never read the book, so I’ll definitely take your word on that. However, it just felt too much of a jumble to me. But eventually, it worked out and got a bit better.

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