I am quite conflicted about this the second Jack Ryan film. There is no doubt I enjoy Harrison Ford’s Ryan more than I did Alec Baldwin’s. Of course, they really are not the same character at all. With Ford, Ryan has become more of an action hero. Sadly, I didn’t find this script as compelling as the other Ryan films. It is by far the worst adaptation of a Clancy novel to date. The complicated plot ends up being reduced to a simple game of revenge for the villain. Plot contrivances abound just to place Ryan into the heat of fire. Still, even this lesser adaptation contains exceptional contributions by a fine cast. It is worth watching at least once to see the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Harris, and James Earl Jones.
Former CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Ford) stumbles on an IRA plot against the Royal Family while in England with his family. In the scuffle to stop the bad guys, Ryan kills one of the gunmen and captures his brother Sean Miller (Bean). When Miller is broken out of prison he heads to the USA to seek revenge on Ryan and his family.
You’re offered a choice of a Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 tracks. Once again you won’t find much of a difference between these tracks. This film is a lot more “explosive” than was Hunt for Red October, so you will find the dynamic range to be a bit wider. Lows are especially impressive here. My sub was making itself known clearly with each gun battle or explosion. Highs were a bit flatter on the Dolby track but not so you would readily notice. Surrounds are not as aggressive as you might expect with an action film. Most of the sound is generated in the front three channels. James Horner’s score is absolutely terrific. Dialogue is always upfront and easy to hear.
Patriot Games is presented in its original theatric aspect ratio of 2.35:1. At times this is quite an exceptional transfer, but there does appear to be a good deal of inconsistency here. Colors and tints seem to change ever so slightly in contrast. I also found some digital artifact during the early gun battle scene, but it took me a quick second pass to really catch it. Flesh tones are reference. There are rare instances of film artifact. Overall this does not appear to be an upgrade from previous releases.
The only extra of note is a half hour collection of interviews with cast and crew. It’s certainly worth a quick peek. All you will find to complement it is the trailer.
Harrison Ford originally perused the role of Ramius in Hunt for Red October. Instead, he got the chance to play Ryan in two films. That was a good tradeoff since I can’t imagine him playing Ramius better than Connery. The performances are really great, but I have to tell you the story sucks. It’s worth a rental for the acting alone, but as for the film itself: “I just can’t believe the whole bloody thing.”