[Editor’s Note: This film is currently only available in the U.S. in the Jack Ryan 5-Film Collection in 4K, but it will no doubt be released by itself internationally and domestically at some point in the future, thus we are reviewing each film in the set individually.]
After The Hunt for Red October earned $200,512,643 worldwide, Paramount saw the makings of a franchise; the studio decided to make some changes. Most notably, Harrison Ford (The Expendables 3) replaced Alec Baldwin as Dr. Jack Ryan. Anne Archer came on board as Dr. Catherine Ryan, Jack’s wife, replacing Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Gates McFadden as Caroline Ryan. This wasn’t as noticeable, because Ryan’s wife only appeared in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it-scene in The Hunt for Red October. At the time there were a lot of rumors as to why Alec Baldwin was replaced, but no real definitive answer–-Baldwin was asking for too much money; Paramount contended that it was a scheduling conflict. Baldwin did indeed star as Stanley Kowalski in a Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire during Patriot Games ‘principal photography–Whatever the reason, the very bankable Harrison Ford took over the role of Jack Ryan.
Patriot Games finds Jack Ryan, having left the CIA and enjoying a career as a professor at the Annapolis Naval Academy. As the film opens, he’s taken his wife, and child (Thora Birch), to London where he’s to attend a conference as a guest lecturer. During the trip he finds himself in the middle of a plot to kill a member of the Royal Family. Ryan leaps into action and manages to kill one terrorist and wound another, whom is captured by the British police. The captured IRA terrorist is Sean Miller (Sean Bean, The Island) and the man killed was his brother. When a daring rescue gives Miller his freedom, Jack and his family are in immediate danger. Miller doesn’t think twice about crossing the Atlantic, and visiting the area surrounding Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Maryland to exact revenge on Jack and his family for taking his brother’s life.
After an attack on his wife and daughter, Jack´s former CIA supervisor, Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones), talks Jack into returning to the CIA. Jack and his team scour the globe with satellite technology and intelligence to find where Sean and his assassins may be hiding. They hit a terrorist camp in Africa, but it quickly becomes clear that Sean is not among them and that perhaps the attack on the Ryan family was directly caused by Miller. Unfortunately for Ryan, the Royal who he saved, Lord William Holmes (James Fox) comes to America. The visit creates the perfect opportunity for Sean to make a move.
Director Phillip Noyce and screenwriters W. Peter IIiff and Donald Stewart did an excellent job of crafting a film built on equal parts intelligence and action. One of the things that makes Patriot Games such an appealing movie, is the use of military technology and brainpower, instead of a lot of special effects gimmickry. Instead, the excitement comes from events that one could image happening in a CIA agent’s life. There are still a few great action scenes to keep thing moving, and climactic face-off between Ryan and Miller is a great capper to the film.
As a fan of the Jack Ryan films, Patriot Games ranks near the top. The movie is written to be a sequel to The Hunt for Red October and not a prequel, as the books´ timeline has the story fall. There were also several changes made to the story for the film. As a result, some Tom Clancy diehards may find a few things to dislike about Patriot Games. However, at the end of the day, Patriot Games is a highly intelligent action drama that should entertain most adult fans of the genre.
Just like The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games was originally shot on 35mm film, and scanned in full 4K for this release. Presented in its proper aspect ratio of 2.35:1, a greater level of fine detail is immediately apparent. The palette is rather muted, but the HDR gives the limited brights a more nuanced appearance. Shadows are more enhanced, and the entire film has a more natural look. Like The Hunt for Red October, this 4K transfer won’t blow fans of the format away, but it’s a marked improvement over the Blu-ray release.
Once again, the audio is the same lossless English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD surround mix found on the previous Blu-ray edition. It features an excellent level of clarity, and dynamic range. The low end is good, and ambience is plentiful. Panning is strong throughout, while dialogue is clean, and clear. Additional audio options include English Audio Description, 5.1 Dolby Digital in German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, Italian, and Russian, 2.0 Dolby Digital in Czech and Japanese, and mono Dolby Digital in Hungarian, Polish, and Brazilian Portuguese. English, English SDH, Arabic, Malaysian, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, German, Greek, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin America), French, Hindu, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Hungarian, Mandarin, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Russian, Romanian, Slovak, Finnish, Swedish, Thai, and Turkish subtitles are included.
There are no new extras, and the 4K disc contains just the film. On the accompanying Blu-ray, you’ll find the following:
- Patriot Games: Up Close (SD, 25:14)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:31)
Movie title: Patriot Games (1992)
Director(s): Phillip Noyce
Actor(s): Harrison Ford,, Anne Archer,, Patrick Bergin, , Sean Bean, , Thora Birch, , James Fox
Genre: Action, Thriller, Crime, Drama