Clear and Present Danger: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) has just found himself promoted to Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA, but his lack of experience is evident. The promotion was given to him after his friend Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) was stricken with a terminal illness, so Ryan was bumped up to the position. Although he has a lot of drive and ambition, Ryan has little experience in complex political actions and that causes some problems. The timing couldn’t be more urgent, as one of the President’s friends has been murdered by a Colombian drug cartel. It is known that the “friend” was involved in money laundering with the cartel, but the President seeks to keep that suppressed, so he rolls a plan into motion. Ryan is charged to investigate the murder, but at the same time, a team of covert operatives is already in place in Colombia, led by field agent John Clark (Willem Dafoe). Within the cartel itself, there is great tension due to the CIA presence, which is used by Felix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida), the cartel’s security chief. Cortez serves as a double agent, keeping his boss informed, but at the same time, making plans to overtake the operation. Cortez also makes a deal with James Cutter, the National Security Advisor, one which complicates matters even more. Can Ryan somehow uncover the truth about all these actions, or will he simply be another life lost in the cover-up of underhanded deeds?

A mixture of espionage, traditional drama, and pure action, Clear and Present Danger is a fun movie from start to finish. As based on Tom Clancy’s novel, the film creates a political thriller that is effective and enjoyable. Of course, part of the movie’s success is owed to star Harrison Ford, but the great action scenes, well crafted dialogue, and terrific supporting cast also contribute, without question. Willem Dafoe turns in a superb effort here, while Anne Archer, James Earl Jones, and Henry Czerny are also quite good. The action driven scenes are excellent here, including the amazing van attack sequence, while exposition is also well handled. A few pace issues do surface, but nothing serious and on the whole, the balance between exposition and action is favorable. After all, too little action would slow down the movie, while too little exposition would weaken the action scenes. So in the end, this is a well made and fun to watch motion picture, so fans of political thrillers shouldn’t miss it. This was one of the first titles that Paramount revisited, after a lackluster original release some time back. As far as extras, this release is slim, but the new transfer and added DTS option prove to be more than enough to warrant an upgrade. So whether you already own the previous edition or you’re a first time buyer, this new Special Collector’s Edition is the version you’ll want to have in your collection.

The character of Jack Ryan has been played by three actors over a span of four films, with Harrison Ford the sole repeat worker. Of course, future installments are almost a lock, but until this point, I hold Ford as the best choice to handle the role. As one of cinema’s greatest stars, Ford brings a kind of presence that few others could even come close to, so Clear and Present Danger has an instant edge over most political thrillers. I wouldn’t rank this up there with Ford’s best work, but he does a great job as Ryan, both in this movie and in Patriot Games. And while I like this movie better than Patriot Games, I do think Ford’s performance in that picture is a shade better. Even so, he is by no means sleepwalking in this one, as he has his usual strong presence, which is then bolstered by a fine supporting cast. So he does need his costars a little more than usual, but it makes for a deeper, more complex motion picture. Other films with Ford include What Lies Beneath, The Fugitive, The Empire Strikes Back, The Conversation, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Blade Runner, and Air Force One. The cast also includes Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, The English Patient), Anne Archer (The Art of War, Rules of Engagement), Henry Czerny (The Ice Storm, Mission: Impossible), and Miguel Sandoval (Human Nature, Jurassic Park).

Video: How does it look?

Clear and Present Danger is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The original release had a passable visual effort, but it was non-anamorphic and as such, this new anamorphic edition offers some nice improvements. The image is sharper and has more visible detail, especially in the small visual touches. So distant objects seem more refined and that’s good news, since the previous treatment was a tad soft. This new transfer also eliminates the edge enhancement and halos that plagued the previous release. I found colors to be solid, with no serious problems and black levels are stark and well balanced throughout. A few minor flaws remain behind, but this is a marked improvement in all respects.

Audio: How does it sound?

This release contains a pair of 5.1 surround options, with both Dolby Digital and DTS tracks offered. I have always found this film’s audio to be impressive, so the addition of a DTS option was most welcome indeed. The soundtrack has a lot of reserved, dialogue driven sequence, which come across well here, but it also has some effective action scenes. So when the explosions, gun battles, and car chases kick into gear, these soundtracks are more than able to keep up the pace, so your system is in for a workout. James Horner’s score sound smooth and immersive here also, while dialogue is crisp and never suffers from volume issues. I do think the DTS option has a slight edge in overall performance, but both tracks are terrific presentations. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes a twenty-six minute featurette, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.

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