Plot: What’s it about?
Though not necessarily a “sequel” to it’s predecessor (The Hunt for Red October), “Patriot Games” found itself as somewhat of a hit on its own merit. We find the familiar character of Jack Ryan now played by Harrison Ford who replaced Alec Baldwin, who, at the time was thought to be somewhat difficult to work with and a prima donna. Though, the truth be told, he was off to play Stanley Kowalski on Broadway in A Streetcar Named Desire. In any case, “Patriot Games” remains my favorite of the Jack Ryan thrillers and though we don’t really know who will end up playing Ryan in future movies (he’s had three leading men in only four movies); this has all of the right elements that made it a hit at the time and a movie that will most likely stand the test of time. With the Cold War over, this movie finds itself far removed from the submarine-type atmosphere of Red October. Ryan, who is now played by Ford and his wife (now played by Anne Archer and not Gates McFadden of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame) are a family and Jack has now quit the CIA. Or so he thinks…
While abroad in England, Ryan (Harrison Ford) uses his sheer instinct to thwart a terrorist attack on Lord Holmes. Ryan kills the brother of the leader of the attack, Sean Miller (Sean Bean) and it’s now his mission in life to avenge his brother’s death. Ryan is treated as a hero, even awarded a medal of honor; but thinks nothing of it as he and his family go back home to Annapolis, MD and try to resume their lives. The CIA, Jack’s former place of employment, comes knocking at his door in the form of Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones). They warn him that though a possible retaliation by Miller is nearly out of the question, that it could possibly happen. Does it? Of course so, else we would have no movie! The rest of the movie focuses on Miller’s attempts to avenge his brother (by killing Ryan and his family) and their plans to follow through on their plans to kill Lord Holmes (James Fox).
Patriot Games, the second in the now four movie saga, worked on many levels and though it’s still classified as a “Political Thriller”; there’s enough action to keep the audience entertained for the nearly two hour running time. I have to admit that the juggling of the cast was a bit odd and now with the new “The Sum of All Fears” we now find Jack about 15 years younger, unmarried and without children (“Patriot Games” ends on a somewhat odd note concerning the sex of his unborn child). Confusing, yes? So fans of the movie will probably want to upgrade to Patriot Games on Blu-ray; a taut, political thriller that still packs a punch, some 16 years later. Recommended.
Video: How does it look?
“Patriot Games” looks pretty darn good on it’s initial Blu-ray offering. The Jack Ryan collection was eventually released on HD DVD, but I never had an opportunity to check it out. This 2.35:1 HD VC-1 transfer looks, for the most part, good. I noticed a few instances of some grain in the transfer and a few of the outdoor scenes seemed a bit muddy, but overall clarity was generally a lot better than I expected. The colors are vibrant at times, but a majority of the film has a very muted palette and hence doesn’t really lend itself to anything outstanding. Flesh tones seem warm and natural and I noticed no edge enhancement in the least. “Patriot Games” looks better than I’ve ever seen it and this Blu-ray is living proof of that.
Audio: How does it sound?
The soundtrack for “Patriot Games” has been upped via a Dolby TrueHD uncompressed mix which seems to be the standard in most Blu-ray titles. Granted, the film isn’t one associated with an outstanding mix, but there were a few instances in which I was really impressed. Early on, there’s a bomb that explodes as well as plenty of gunfire and the ending boat chase scene sounded much better thane expected too. While the track doesn’t compare to “today’s” soundtracks, it’s a step up over the previous DTS mix on the special edition DVD.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The supplements here are the same as the previous standard DVD, meaning that we get the same 25 minute retrospective “look back” on the film and as this was produced in 2002 (timed for the tenth anniversary of the movie), it’s now 2008 and we get the same information. The original theatrical trailer is also included.