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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Jack Ryan fights terrorists in new DVD release

With the proliferation of superheroes in the movies today, plain old action heroes can sometimes be overlooked. John McClane ("Die Hard") and Jason Bourne come to mind for occasionally being overshadowed by their mutated counterparts.

Another such hero is Jack Ryan - a character crafted by author Tom Clancy who later became famous in film adaptations of Clancy's novels. A CIA agent fighting terrorist threats, Ryan became famous in three 1990s movies: "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger." The new "Jack Ryan 3-Pack DVD" combines these three classics in one set worthy of any Tom Clancy fan.

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

This John McTiernan film ("Die Hard") follows the early career of Ryan - played here by a young Alec Baldwin - as he tries to rise through the ranks of the CIA. When a new Russian submarine captained by Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) heads for American waters, the U.S. government fears an imminent attack. Ryan, however, believes that Ramius is planning to defect, and is sent to rendezvous with the sub while evading Russian forces.

Perhaps less appreciated than the other Jack Ryan movies, "October" is the best and most compelling of the three. Baldwin's Ryan has doubts and fears that lend him a believable realism. Sean Connery's Marko steals the show as an icy commander treading a fine line between conscience and commitment. Thankfully, the film is suspenseful without being dull.

Patriot Games (1992)

With "Patriot Games," Baldwin left the franchise and Harrison Ford took over as an older Ryan. In "Games," Ryan accidentally thwarts an IRA attack in London and incurs their wrath for the film's remainder. Ford's acting and high-octane action make up for the thinly developed plot.

Here, Ford shows why he is one of the most bankable stars in film, and he contrasts well with the IRA terrorist who hunts his family (Sean Bean). As the only film in the set to earn an R rating, "Patriot Games" has a high intensity level. While not the strongest of the Ryan flicks, Ford's acting and the action sequences keep the film entertaining.

Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Ford returns as Jack Ryan for "Clear and Present Danger," the best received film of the three. Now the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence, Ryan finds himself in the middle of an illegal U.S. war against Colombian drug lords and must take matters into his own hands to expose the truth.

The film's script is smart and tight, making "Danger" surprisingly brainy. Ford gives a stellar performance, as do co-stars James Earl Jones and Willem Dafoe. Also, stronger action sequences make "Danger" feel more complete.

Each movie in the 3-Pack comes on a separate disc with new cast and crew interviews produced specifically for the DVD. While these are the only substantial special features, they go into significant detail about the adaptation of Clancy's novels and the filming of the movies.

The greatest feature of the "Jack Ryan 3-Pack" is the collection of these three films in one place. Clancy fans and action movie lovers can rejoice to see Jack Ryan take on submarine warfare, terrorist threats and government corruption while going along for the ride.