Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Directed by Phillip Noyce.
With Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer, Joaquim de Almeida, Harris Yulin and Donald Moffat.
Director Phillip Noyce and star Harrison Ford return for this sequel to 1992’s Patriot Games. Based on a novel by Tom Clancy, CIA operative Jack Ryan is plunged into an investigation into a Colombian drug cartel, with ramifications at home and abroad.
There’s something painfully po-faced about this offering. From the opening bars of James Horner’s flag-waving score, Clear and Present Danger is all about doing the right thing for America. Though much of the film takes place in the corridors of power of Washington DC, it doesn’t attempt to cover its political elite in glory, setting up a narrative that implies many of the senior White House staff are somehow complicit in wrongdoing.
Harrison Ford is a fine lead in anything, and although this won’t rank among his memorable starring roles, his cool style and charisma are enough to help us stay with the unremarkable plot. Ford is supported by Willem Dafoe in a military role that doesn’t extend his talent much, but adds a certain quality.
There are impressive action sequences, in particular, a tense ambush on the streets of Colombia. What I like, is that Jack Ryan isn’t depicted as a typical, unrealistic action hero. Although he’s adept, to a certain degree, we’re allowed to believe that he’s vulnerable too. This approach gives the action set-pieces a grounding that separates them from much of what we saw in the 1990’s. What a shame then, that so much of the film feels overly generic.
Although Clear and Present Danger is a serviceable watch, it also manages to be a humourless, 141min slog with a rigid sense of predictability to it. The political intrigue isn’t as intriguing as it ought to be, but in Harrison Ford, it has a leading actor who can make a tax advertisement enjoyable. 3/5