Philip Noyce directs Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe and Donald Moffat in this Jack Ryan thriller where the CIA boy scout finds himself caught in a conspiracy involving a Columbia drug lord and a President sanctioning a secret war.
The best of the Jack Ryan adaptations. At its finest when teeing up the complex conspiracy and corporate confrontations. Although the action is pretty compelling when it interrupts the sinuous cable of subplots that bind the whole thing together. Probably telling that the most gripping moment in the entire franchise involves Harrison racing to refill his printer paper rather than sequences involving RPGs and smart missiles. Willem Dafoe has larks as the covert man of action, John Clark, and his bonus mini-movie captures the gung-ho flavour of one of Clancy’s massive timekiller tomes better than any other attempt. Ford eventually gets to be part of the fun in the final hour. Racing around behind enemy lines in a nice bit of Blue Harbour menswear and flashing his CIA business card like it is a Jedi mind trick. The mature, intelligent lead fits into the big finale organically without betraying his character’s less dynamic origins as a staid desk jockey. Ford then gets his true moment of triumph, and its a corker, when he faces down the dirty POTUS with grit and fortitude. What felt like a pretty standard summer studio release 25 years ago now feels like a type of blockbuster they just don’t bother with anymore. Shame that!
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