Wednesday, February 16, 2011

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER (1994) - Han Solo takes on the drug war... and wins.

America loves spy movies. America also seems to love Harrison Ford, as it rightly should, seeing as how he was Indiana Jones and Han Solo. It's reasonable then, to expect that Tom Clancy's political/military thriller novels make for decent viewing and successful box office. Harrison Ford plays Jack Ryan again, after Patriot Games, and this time is forced to fight Colombian cartels and assholes in his own country's government.

Harrison Ford don't take no lip from no one. Yeah, I used a triple negative. U mad?
As the film opens, a Coast Guard cutter chases down a luxury yacht which has been taken over by thugs. When the officers come aboard, they discover an American family murdered, including the head of the family, a close friend of the President of the US. The investigation reveals that the guy was in fact in over his head with after stealing money from the Colombian drug cartels, but President Bennett (Donald Moffat) is pissed to high heaven and begins to plan for revenge. He orders his senior advisor James Cutter (Harris Yulin) to start a secret operation to attack the cartel with special forces soldiers. In the meantime, Jack Ryan, an analyst working for the CIA, is promoted after his boss Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones) is hospitalized with cancer. As a result, Ryan becomes involved with the revenge operation after he is duped into fooling Congress into giving money for the entire plan, and indirectly lying to them.

Protip: rocket launchers > Chevy Suburbans.
Planning the entire operation is Ritter (Henry Czerny), a career bureaucrat and all-around son of a bitch. Everyone around him seems to hate him. I don't blame them. Anyways, Ritter recruits John Clark (Willem Dafoe) to lead the soldiers into Colombia, where they soon begin to blow the hell out of everything they find: drug labs, contraband airplanes, killing drug lords, etc. Soon, they've blown up enough shit that the cartel is in a serious hurt and drug kingpin Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval) strikes a deal with the US government to betray their own soldiers. Jack Ryan is forced to try and bring the conspiracy to light, expose the traitors and do what he can to save the G.I.s on the ground in Colombia.

"Target, hot chick sunbathing. Range 400 yards. She's a butterface, sir."
Clear and Present Danger has most of the elements we expect to see in political thrillers on the screen: corrupt government officials (in this case, the President), conspiracy and backroom dealings, innocent people getting caught in the crossfire, and of course, the average Joe trying to bring everything to light. I haven't read the novel it's based on, so I can't comment on how faithful the story is to the book, but as a standalone film it works well enough to hold your attention and create tension. The pacing is quick and the movie has some good action sequences, especially the Colombian ambush and the smart bomb assassination. The roles are well cast: the guy who plays Ritter is a convincing jerk, and Ford does a good job as usual. The stand out in my opinion is Willem Dafoe as the unhinged Clark, who knows he's been betrayed and is looking for someone to take it out on. Dafoe was born to play crazy, psychotic characters. This was a great role for him, even if it is pretty strange to see him play a good guy for a change.

This is Ritter. He wears suspenders. He is an asshole.
This flick is decent, and overall is an enjoyable thriller in the Clancy series. It's no Hunt for Red October, but it is a step above the other movie with Ben Affleck and Patriot Games. It's an enjoyable watch if  you're in the mood for the genre, and it has enough story going for it that it will keep you entertained and guessing until the end.

TL;DR - Colombians, politicians, cocaine, and guns. Sounds like a party. - 6.5/10


  1. Harrison Ford was the man up til Air Force One. His last awesome film IMO.

  2. Wasn't Gary Oldman in that? Damn I gotta watch that again!

  3. HARRISON FORD, fucking love that guy, bamf!

  4. downloading as we speak! well, as i type.

  5. I saw this back in the day and forgot how good it was, nice post.

    Following & Supporting

  6. this movie had great writing, acting and action... it is definitely a classic

  7. Oh the good ol' days when Harrison Ford was a badass. Should be interesting seeing him in "Cowboys and Aliens" which is coming out soon.