I’ve always been a fan of the Jack Ryan series. The Hunt For Red October is one of my favorite films. The books are great as well (haven’t read all of them, or most of them really). Harrison Ford only did two Jack Ryan films and I was always disappointed he didn’t do more. He was really good.
Patriot Games is the first time Ford took on the role of Jack Ryan (replacing Alec Baldwin). The movie is fairly basic. Ryan (Ford) is a former analyst now Professor (unfortunately not Indiana Jones). He gets involved in a botched IRA-splinter group assassination attempt and kills one of the terrorist’s, Sean Miller(Sean Bean), brother. The rest is basically just about Miller getting revenge. The movie glosses over a lot of the fancy covert stuff. I mean it’s there, but it’s subdued.
So, this is not an action film. Yes there are action sequences, but I wouldn’t label it an action flick. It’s not necessarily a thriller either, but maybe I just feel that way since there the movie is pretty stripped down and basic storyline wise. They give the audience a lof of information and you just watch the characters figure out what is going on. Not really a spy movie. It’s something of a mix of those.
The movie has pretty good pacing. I mean I never felt any adrenaline rush watching it, but I didn’t feel like it dragged. They kept things moving along. Unfortunately it isn’t exactly the most thrilling film. Again, the story really didn’t help things. I mean it’s fairly straightforward and not nearly as complex as I had hopped.
Part of my problem with the Ryan films in general is that you are just thrown into this world without a back story. We really don’t know much about this Ryan. You learn bits and pieces, but you’re mostly figuring out the character as you go. I’m more of a fan of Clear and Present Danger as far as how Ford portrayed Ryan. There’s a disconnect between these two films, which makes it harder to critique this one. I never really felt like I got much of an emotional connection with Ryan. You’re just given information and situations. It’s not that Ford does a bad job either, it’s just that the story feels very stripped down.
The film has a lot of political background with IRA splinter groups and whatnot going on and most of that is very watered down to the point of not really being important. They could have made up a terrorist faction as far as how important that specific group was. The movie seemed stripped of the soul. That someone somewhere probably did a good adaptation of the novel and in the process of being produced, the film was simplified too much.
I still like the film. I used to love watching these Jack Ryan films. I suppose nostalgia is making this more difficult, but I really wasn’t as impressed with Patriot Games as I remember. I recall it being better than my re-watch. Still, as far as the genre goes, you could do far worse. Without seeing Clear and Present Danger again recently, I do think that this film does a good job at setting that “sequel” up and Ford is a better Jack Ryan than Alec Baldwin and Ben Affleck, though none of them are set in the same time period.
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