Some really intense action and cool plotting, but it is all undercut by an open
ending that leaves the viewer with the sense that the movie is only half over.
And that's not a good thing. It's also hard not to compare this film with
Patriot Games, which takes place with many of the same characters, about three
or four years earlier. At the end of that one, the open ending was whether
Jack Ryan's wife was going to have a boy or a girl baby. In this movie,
their young girl is older, and they have a young son, as well. It was
really cool to see Thora Birch in this role -was she ever young!
Jack Ryan takes over from his boss, Admiral Greer, who has cancer and who
dies by the end of the film, just when Ryan needs him most. I liked the
way their relationship stayed strong, even when they were getting weaker.
Just when Greer thinks he is being given more bad news, Ryan gives him new
magazines to replace the old hospital ones. This is the gesture of true
Ryan does so good at Greer's job that the President asks him to go to
Columbia in order to search for a drug lord's contact. They found millions
of dollars in drug money in the accounts of a murdered American -who also
happened to be a friend of the President. I don't understand Ryan's logic
in telling the President to play up the friendship instead of playing it down.
But it seems to work, and Ryan gets into his good graces, even though he's the
The entire story makes the President look very flippant. He does
everything his advisors tell him without asking for second opinions. When
presented with a dilemma, he makes snap decisions. Not the kind of man who
I want running the USA.
One of these decisions sends Ryan to Columbia. When Ryan is successful
in finding out the contact, but says he is not a negotiator, the President
another of his aides, who went to school with a Columbian government official,
who may or may not be skilled or appropriate for the job -we are never told.
This leads to the greatest scene in the movie, though, and I think it was simply a move
to get somebody down there who could be associated with Ryan, but who was
expendable. As they are driving with police escort down several streets,
Ryan watches as a woman hurriedly closes her door. Others bolt their
windows, obviously aware of what is about to happen. The setup was
terrific. Ryan notices people on
the roofs of buildings, and then a rocket launcher blows up the lead and last
car in their caravan. When nearly everybody is killed, driving back and
forth in the blocked laneway, Ryan finally takes charge, in the typical Harrison
Ford manner. But he is the only survivor (as far as I could tell).
We see the typical CIA data centers in the US and in Columbia, but they are
no match for the pivotal satellite telemetry room in Patriot Games. But
they are just as effective. They gather voiceprints of the suspects, and
after the main bad guy, Cortez, kills his government agency girlfriend, Ryan is
the only one who notices the right clues. Why Cortez killed the girl is a
question to me. How would anybody put the clues together? The only
reason they were able to figure out who he was is because of her death.
Unknown to Ryan, his rival in the same post at the CIA has sent troops into
Columbia, against strict orders by the Congressional commission. But all
that will fall at Ryan's feet. The orders come indirectly from the
President, who wants the drug trade curtailed at all costs. He seems to
succeed, too. I wonder, now that all the drug lords are dead, who will
take over. Would it be somebody worse?
The troops are awesome to watch. There is one, whom we get to know, who
is silent as a mouse, able to sneak up on anybody without alerting them.
He is the lead sniper and scout. He gets a close-up view when an F-18
fighter aircraft throws a bomb at the facility where all the drug lords except
one are meeting. The blame goes on that last living drug lord, as the sole survivor.
But the military wasn't too smart this time. Ryan easily figures out that
it was not a car bomb, as the media was told. The blast pattern does not
match what would be found in the case of a car bomb. Cortez also figures
this out. I think it would have been better if they had sent a car bomb!
Cortez makes an offer to Ryan's boss, the head of the CIA. He will take
over the Columbian drug trade, cutting shipments in half, which is good for the
President. All he wants in return is the location of the troops that are
destroying the drugs and supplies. For some reason, the CIA boss gives him
that information. Why not simply recall the troops? There is a
throwaway line that the troops could admit that they were actually in Columbia,
but if they were black ops, why would they do that?
Ryan confronts his rival at the CIA, but gets nowhere. He then goes
down to Columbia once again, and helps track down the now-missing soldiers.
They were ambushed and all killed, except for the expert sniper, who was away
scouting at the time, and two who were captured alive. The director of
this movie cut
this slaughter with the funeral for Greer, which should have seemed a
counterpoint, but for some reason, it was rather ineffective.
Ryan finds his contact, and helps rescue the remaining troops, which were
some more great scenes. I could have done without Cortez coming back to
life to unbalance Ryan so that he nearly falls off the helicopter, but the
sniper kills Cortez anyway, so we know that he will not be taking part in the
future drug trade.
There was also a hilarious scene where Ryan buys a helicopter, because there
are none to rent! He offers his business card, and the seller's face
lights up! (I actually got to use the zoom feature on my DVD for the first
time here -checking out Ryan's business card!)
When he gets back to the US, Ryan confronts the President, which is not a
smart thing to do without huge support. Still, he seemed to hold his own,
but I am sure he could have used Greer's advice on how to approach this from an
oblique angle, instead of head-on. I was disappointed that Ryan didn't
respond to the President's "how dare you" speech with the same response that
Greer gave Ryan on his deathbed -that the American people are the President's
boss, even if he holds himself above them.
The movie ends with threats by the President, which sound way too likely to
be the outcome of the inquest that we see the beginnings of. Why was this
left hanging? Was there a sequel planned that never got made? It
probably could have been another book, discussing what the President did, with
the political and lawyer infighting. But we were left without an answer.
What is Ryan's life going to be like after that hearing? I certainly care,
and I'm sure other fans of this movie do too.
The ending didn't ruin the movie, but it made it seem incomplete. The
rest was a good mix of drama and action, but it cannot compare with its two
prequels, Patriot Games and The Hunt for Red October. Still, I liked
Ryan's character, even if he was naive at times. And I always liked Greer.
The President seemed strangely characterized, and I don't know why he was
written that way. The others were really peripheral, but were alright, as
well. All we really cared about was Jack Ryan, and he gets to be the hero
and the boy scout.
As for the DVD, aside from the quality of the picture and
sound, it was nothing special. The DVD included the theatrical trailer,
which, as often happens, contains several scenes that were not actually in the
movie. For an older movie like this one, I didn't expect a lot of extras,
and certainly didn't get any. However, the sound and picture quality were
outstanding. The sound effects were crisp and clear, and it really added
to the experience, more than simple video has.