Michael Scott

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Apr 4, 2017
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Jack Ryan 5- Film Collection: Clear and Present Danger


Movie: :4stars:
4K Video: :4stars:
Video: :3stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :1star:
Final Score: :4stars:


Paramount has really been on a roll lately with their big name catalog franchises. Transformers, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, Mission Impossible, Tomb Raider and now the entire Jack Ryan series in one big boxset. This time around I'm going to be doing something different. Instead of reviewing the boxset as a whole, I"ll be reviewing each individual film in the boxset (they're only available IN the boxset, not individually) so that you can compare and contrast the films in a more detailed manner. To to continue on with the backwards trend, we go back in time to 1994s's Clear and Present Danger

The original Jack Ryan trilogy was one of those things where The Hunt for Red October just took off, and Paramount capitalized on the franchise by churning out two sequels with a 2 year gap in each one. In 1994 Harrison Ford was just starting on his downward curve of popularity, but the powerhouse actor had become “the face” of Jack Ryan at that point. I was actually 13 years old when I saw the film, and it was my introduction to the series, and simply put, my favorite as well. It’s the most action packed of the series, and has everything a young boy could want. CIA analysts going full commando in a drug lord’s villa, special ops snipers, sneaky drug lords, a big governmental cover up, and more guns and explosions. Looking back at it more critically, I find it to be the most simplistic of the original three, but still one of the most fun. It forewent some of the critical aspects of Jack Ryan’s character and pushed in high octane action with Harrison Ford as the lead, and hoped that’s what he audience wanted. And in many ways, it was exactly what they wanted as it raked in more than ANY of the 5 movies at the box office.

Moving up the ranks, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is promoted to Deputy Director of Intelligence in the CIA, and is tasked with getting funds from a congress who seem to think that the war on drugs is netting the same results as the Vietnam War. E.g, nothing. He finally gets the support he needs, but only on the condition that none of the funds that congress is giving him be used for black books military operations. Little does the Deputy Director know, the President (Donald Moffat) and his high level intelligence executives are doing just that. Organizing a strike against drug cartel leader, Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval) as revenge for them killing the President’s good friend. Robert Ritter (Mission Impossible’s Henry Czerny goes down to South America, and hires a military contractor named Clark (Willem Dafoe) to strike, taking out multiple drug lords, but only end up missing the target.

Felix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida, the drug lord in EVERY movie), the right hand man of Escobedo, silently strikes a deal with the U.S. government in exchange for his bosses life. He’ll give them Escobedo, but he wants to be in charge of the cartel when his boss is gone, and in exchange will work “nicely” with the U.S. to limit the drugs going across the border. When things go to hell in a handbasket (as you know they were going to do) Ryan has to pick up the pieces, forgoing his desk job and going down to South America to personally fix the betrayals and backstabbing that Cortez, Ritter and other high level American Government leaders have done with their illegal dealings, and risk his own life to make things right.
Clear and Present danger is a fun movie to watch, but it is hampered by a 30 minute opening act that is a real chore to slog through. It’s also a difficult film to follow upon first viewing, as they crammed near 700 pages of Tom Clancy’s novel in to a 2 hour and 21 minute film. But still, it’s one of the better political thrillers to come out of the 90s. We were before the 9-11 wave of middle east terrorists, and drug cartels from the so called “war on drugs” were the perfect bad guy to go up against. It also helps that the film is filled with a lot of the 90s super starts and go to actors, such as Benjamin Bratt, Willem Dafoe, Almeida, Henry Czerny, Harrison Ford, Thora Birch, James Earl Jones, and even Ted Raimi as one of the CIA aids.

Ford is the perfect man for the job in that time period, blending a mixture of naive innocence (surprising for someone that high up in the CIA), with the right amount of stoic tough guy attitude, making for a very likable hero. James Ear Jones didn’t get as much time in the film as he did in Patriot Games, but he is a worthy addition as the deep voiced Admiral Greer as well. Willem Dafoe is top notch, playing the slightly off kilter commando leader (you have to be to survive in that black ops type world), and everyone else is just top notch. I feel the film’s simplicity and adherence to typical action tropes leaves it at the bottom run of the original films (although head and shoulders above the 21st century Jack Ryan movies), but still a very enjoyable 90s political action thriller.


Rated PG-13 for some intense action/violence and language

4K Video: :4stars: Video: :3stars:
The 2008 Blu-ray for Clear and Present Danger has NOT been treated kindly by history. The movie is near unwatchable in many ways, with it’s frozen grain, smeared textures from over aggressive DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) and pasty skin tones from too much post processing. The first four films were never that great, but in my opinion, Clear and Present Danger was the worst of the bunch. This new 4K UHD master remedies 99% of the issues, and actually tweaks the color palate just a bit as well. It’s a big BIG upgrade over the Blu-ray, but also not as sharp and clear as the later films in the franchise. Right off the bat you can tell a noticeable upgrade as the grain is no longer frozen and smeared with DNR, while the fine details pop off the screen with sharp clarity. Look at the helo dropping off Ford later on in the film. You can see the individual paint marks on the body flaking off, as well as the Colombian grasses waiving underneath the turning rotors. Blacks are deep and inky, showing off MUCH more shadow detail than I have ever seen before, as well as very limited crush.

The one thing that stands out (and is the same with Patriot Games and The Hunt for Red October) is that the use of HDR drains the colors a bit compared to the DVD and Blu-ray. Actually, it drains it a lot. The Blu-ray was always overly red, with a heavy ruddy push to skin tones and backdrops, giving it an almost burnished look. According to the interviews and commentaries, this was actually something that was done on the original home video releases and NOT part of the plan. The 4K UHD pulls a LOT of those colors out, giving it a heavy heavy gray look that desaturates the image and gives it a bit of a flat look. There are some nice splashes of color though, such as in Escobedo’s villa, or the bright blues of the ocean. It’s a very solid 4K UHD disc, and one that easily EASILY outclasses the very cruddy looking Blu-ray from 10 years ago.

Audio: :4stars:
Like all the others, the same 5.1 Dolby TrueHD found on the 10 year old Blu-ray is found here as well, and the results are pretty typical. The 2008 mix was not wildly aggressive, but it was very satisfactory as well. The action oriented movie was filled with that typical 90s score, and the bombastic action sequences had more than enough pounding bass with heavy helo rotors, or the rumbling of a truck going over a Colombian street. Surrounds are wide and spacious, but sadly the dynamic range is a bit soft. The “punch” that most of the modern tracks have isn’t present here as the track is more normalized and even than other mixes. The vocals are always precise and clear though, anchored up front in the center channel, and the solid track still holds its own today despite its age.

Extras: :1star:
• Behind the Danger
Theatrical Trailer

Final Score: :4stars:

Clear and Present Danger is actually the simplest of the film, despite the fairly complex and multiple intertwining plots throughout the film. It lacks the depth of Patriot Games or The Hunt for Red October, and strives to really be a Harrison Ford action movie in Jack Ryan guise. I said above that I originally found it the best of the “original” trilogy (I saw this way before The Sum of All Fears came out), but I have to re categorize it as #3 after watching it from a more mature perspective. it’s still a BLAST to watch, and I love the action elements though, with Harrison Ford at the end of his “peak” career. The 4K UHD shows massive improvements in the video side, and copies over the audio and very limited extras from the Blu-ray release. Definitely recommended as I love the film almost as much as I did when I was 13 years old.

Technical Specifications:

Starring: Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, Willem Dafoe, Joaquim de Almeida
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Written by: Donald E. Stewart, Steven Zaillian, John Milius, Tom Clancy (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Russian DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0, Polish, Portuguese DD Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Cantonese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Swedish, Thai, Turkish
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 141 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 21st, 2018

Recommendation: Great watch

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