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The box office success of Patriot Games ensured a third outing for the now legendary Jack Ryan. Taking the helm once again was Australian director Phillip Noyce; this time with the monumental task of filming the adaptation for Tom Clancy's biggest Ryan novel yet - Clear and Present Danger. Stepping back into Ryan's shoes is of course Harrison Ford who once again joins up with James Earl Jones in this Columbia drug fuelled adventure. But is it any good? It's time to find out…

Clear and Present Danger: Special Collector's Edition
Movie
Several years have passed since the events of Patriot Games and once again we find Jack Ryan working as a CIA agent. Things aren't looking good for Ryan after his friend and mentor Admiral James Greer falls gravely ill with a highly aggressive form of cancer. Because of the illness, Ryan is quickly appointed the CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence; a promotion that comes with a whole host of new problems to overcome. The first of these problems is to investigate the grim murder of a friend of the US President. It soon becomes clear that the murder is somehow connected to drug cartels in Columbia and the President authorises all necessary force to remove the cartels completely. Unfortunately; Ryan doesn't know about this and he goes before the senate requesting funds specifically on his word that military force won't be used against the drug lords. But deep in the jungles of Columbia, a Special Forces team is already operating and Ryan has to take matters into his own hands, risking his career and life for the only cause he still believes in - the truth.

Clear and Present Danger is finally the return to form that everyone had been hoping for. After the disappointing Patriot Games I hadn't really been holding out too much hope for the follow-up movie, but thankfully this is in a totally different league. One of the major issues I had with Patriot Games was the poorly conceived action-sequences. Thankfully, Phillip Noyce has clearly learned from his mistakes on the previous film and dishes up a whole host of original and exciting action set pieces. Particularly impressive is the ambush of the motorcade containing Ryan and other dignitaries. This gritty scene is unrelenting in its brutal portrayal of war and even close to ten years later, this scene still stands the test of time.

Clear and Present Danger: Special Collector's Edition
Performances are also taken up a notch. Harrison Ford seems much more comfortable in the role and takes the character of Ryan into previously unexplored territory. Phillip Noyce obviously felt the character needed to be more involved in the action, which might explain the far more 'hands on' approach here. Ford is no stranger to action movies though so he dodges bullets extremely convincingly! The man that steals the show for me though is without a doubt James Earl Jones as James Greer. Although he's only on screen for a short period of time, he still puts out an incredibly touching performance as the cancer stricken Admiral. There's a lovely little scene in which Ryan talks to Greer at his bedside and the realisation that Greer is dying suddenly dawns on Ryan for the first time. The chemistry between the two is clearly evident and is certainly one of the more touching scenes that I have seen in a long while.

The film isn't perfect though. The main problem with Clear and Present Danger, and many other adaptations; is the pacing. Running in at nearly two hours and twenty minutes, the film is at least twenty-five minutes too long. The climactic action sequence towards the end of the movie for example seems entirely unnecessary. The film had already been tied up neatly and yet they embark on another little mini-story just to satisfy the hardcore action fans among us. Overall though, Clear and Present Danger provides us with a solid new adventure for Jack Ryan and certainly makes up for the rather unsatisfying Patriot Games. Well worth a watch.

Clear and Present Danger: Special Collector's Edition
Video
As with Patriot Games we get a shiny new 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that replaces the already existing non-anamorphic release. Thankfully, as with Patriot Games, the transfer here makes for a worthy upgrade. The colours are perfectly balanced and in general offer a far sharper and crisper presentation. The only fault I can really pickup on is the slight edge haloing that also appeared with Patriot Games but as with that transfer, it doesn't intrude to the point of distraction. Overall, a reasonably faultless transfer for a reasonably faultless movie!

Audio
I was pretty impressed with the soundtrack on Patriot Games and didn't expect things to get any better with Clear and Present Danger. How wrong I was. The English DTS track goes even further than the already impressive Patriot Games track to provide a truly involving audio experience. The movie features some pretty intense action sequences throughout and thankfully the audio compliments each of them perfectly. Whether it's incoming missiles or ricocheting bullets, this track handles everything admirably. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a little more disappointing though with very little bass in comparison to the DTS. Overall though the DTS track is a welcome addition and makes for some wall rattling entertainment!

Clear and Present Danger: Special Collector's Edition
Extras
Clear and Present Danger is the most recent of the original three Jack Ryan movies and so you'd expect the disc to carry a little more weighty selection of features. Unfortunately not. As with Patriot Games we are given just the short featurette and theatrical trailer. Firstly, the featurette. This one is entitled 'Behind The Danger' and runs to a little over twenty-five minutes. As with the other Ryan discs, making up the bulk of the featurette are the newly recorded interviews with the cast and crew. The director and producer do most of the talking here and initially discuss how the movie was first cast. It turns out that Harrison Ford was the one that suggested doing another movie as he had such an enjoyable time with the cast and crew the first time around. The featurette also looks at how some of the action sequences were first conceived with some fascinating pre-visualisations of the ambush sequence. Considering the length of the featurette, they've certainly managed to cram a lot in and if you're a fan of the film you should certainly give this feature a spin. The only other feature included on the disc is the aforementioned theatrical trailer. This is presented in non-anamorphic widescreen and runs to a little over two and a half minutes.

Clear and Present Danger: Special Collector's Edition
Overall
Clear and Present Danger thankfully succeeds in nearly all of the areas that Patriot Games failed. Practically all of the action sequences are extremely well crafted and exciting, and there are just as many quality moments between the leading characters -most notably between Ryan and Greer. Paramount has also put together another solid Jack Ryan disc with great visual and audio treatment. The only disappointment is the lack of extras. It would have been nice to see an audio commentary included on the disc but with the length of the movie this could be down to a lack of disc space more than anything. Still; a worthy addition to any movie collection.


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