Clear and Present Danger (1994)

"The world is gray, Jack." - Henry Czerny to Harrison Ford

Continuity buffs can rejoice at the return of Jack Ryan in CLEAR AND
PRESENT DANGER, the third Tom Clancy adaptation behind THE HUNT FOR RED
OCTOBER and PATRIOT GAMES.  Back is second-star Harrison Ford (after
Alec Baldwin).  Back is second-director Philip Noyce, who helmed the
horrendous PATRIOT GAMES.  Surprise-- the film is good.  Very good.

The story sees Jack stepping into the shoes of his boss (James Earl
Jones), the Acting Deputy Director of Intelligence.  Conflict comes when
Ryan's White House "buddies" won't let him in on a little
secret-- the fact that President has given his round-about authorization
to a covert military operation against a Columbia drug lord (Miguel
Sandoval).  (Said czar murdered a friend of the President (Donald
Moffat) that is a very bad thing to do.)

So, when the operation inevitably goes from worse to up doo-doo creek,
Ryan finds out too much, too late. And he blows. His. Stack.

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is a big, loud, military movie, brimming with
bombs, and jets, and Coast Guard cutters, and aircraft carriers, and, of
course, stone-faced soldiers carrying flag-draped caskets.  Just the way
that Tom Clancy writes 'em, and just the way co-writer John Milius
scripts 'em.

Like THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, the cast is filled almost entirely by
solemn, serious-looking men who spend all of the their time making
Important Decisions without every cracking their countenance.  Ford,
Moffat, Jones, Harris Yulin, Henry Czerny, Joaquim de Almeida, Raymond
Cruz, Miguel Sandoval, and Willem DaFoe make up *the* best boys club of
the summer.

(Best of the bunch in Harris Yulin as the President's Chief of Staff.
 His silence speaks volumes.  But what's Dean Jones doing here?)

The film has a good pace, despite the mildly confusing plot.  Those who
haven't read the novel (or seen a good spy movie lately) may need to
take notes.  The politics are also very good and, even though the bad
guys *do* get theirs, the film is remarkably devoid of any gratuitous

Too bad that everything is played way-too-straight.  CLEAR AND PRESENT
DANGER is about as rigid as they come and, under the unexpectedly tight
reigns of Noyce, allows almost *no* room for levity.  James Earl Jones
gets to show all of two smiles, and Harrison Ford loosens up some, and
that's about it, and that's a shame.

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is too long and too literate to be a toss-away
actioner, but, with a little added "breathing room" for the characters,
could've been on *heck* of an epic.

BOTTOM LINE:  Twice as good as PATRIOT GAMES, but without the slick

Grade: B+

Copyright 1994 by Michael J. Legeros

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