Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: "Clear and Present Danger" is Presently Really Good (Happy B'day, Harrison Ford)

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 66 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Clear and Present Danger (1994)
Running time: 141 minutes (2 hours, 21 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some intense action/violence and language
DIRECTOR: Philip Noyce
WRITERS: Donald Stewart, Steven Zaillian, and John Milius
PRODUCERS: Mace Neufeld and Robert Rehme
EDITOR: Neil Travis
Academy Award nominee


Starring: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer, Joaquim de Alemeida, Henry Czerny, Harris Yulin, Donald Moffat, Miguel Sandoval, Benjamin Bratt, Raymond Cruz, Thora Birch, Ann Magnuson, Greg Germann, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Belita Moreno, Ted Raimi, and James Earl Jones

Tom Clancy’s intrepid CIA agent, Jack Ryan, makes his third big screen appearance, with Harrison Ford reprising the role of Ryan, which he first played in 1992’s Patriot Games, after replacing Alec Baldwin, who played Ryan in The Hunt for Red October.

When his mentor, Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) becomes gravely ill, Jack Ryan (Ford) is assigned the position of acting CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence, but he meets some resistance in the form of two fellow CIA officers, Robert Ritter (Henry Czerny) and James Cutter (Harris Yulin). Ryan’s first assignment is to investigate the murder of a prominent U.S. businessman and his family. A friend of President Bennett (Donald Moffat), the murdered businessman apparently had secret ties to a Columbian drug lord, Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval).

Unbeknownst to Ryan, Ritter and Cutter, with an unofficial, official go-ahead from President Bennett, have already dispatched a Columbian-based U.S. field operative named John Clark (Willem Dafoe) to lead a paramilitary force against the Columbian drug lords, Escobedo in particular. Ryan also finds that he must match wits with a Latin American version of himself, (Joaquim De Alemeida), who works for Escobedo. Caught in the middle of a brewing scandal and the crossfire of an illegal war, Ryan risks his career and life and jumps into the fray to uncover the thing that means the most to him – the truth.

Clear and Present Danger is the kind of espionage thriller that stands up to repeated viewings because it is also a very good drama, but the main reason the film remains popular is Harrison Ford. As he did so well from the early to the mid-90’s, Ford plays the self-righteous, heroic, sensitive macho man who fights for truth and justice (and sometimes the American way). He is a do-right man, but not just for the ladies. Here, he plays it to the hilt, grim-faced when confronted by lies and wrongful death, grim and solemn over a friend or colleague’s demise, and grimly but gamely going after the baddies.

Clear and Present Danger presents a cerebral Jack Ryan against a cast of Machiavellian bad guys, in particularly a trio of Americans willfully and recklessly waging a misguided and illegal war in the name of revenge and political expediency. Sound familiar? Although Clear and Present Danger seems at times to be a television mini-series (length and narrative structure), this timeless and timely tale, propped up by an amazing leading man (in the true sense of the term), maintains its edge and thrills.

8 of 10

1995 Academy Awards: 2 nominations: “Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing” (Bruce Stambler and John Leveque) and “Best Sound” (Donald O. Mitchell, Michael Herbick, Frank A. MontaƱo, and Art Rochester)

Monday, April 03, 2006


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