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? Still, all that aside, Paramount has now issued this DVD with a re-mastered picture (the old version was one of the first issues from Paramount and were since not anamorphic) and sound (this represents the studio’s first DTS soundtrack). So fans of the movie will probably want to upgrade to Patriot Games 2.0; a taut political thriller that still packs a punch, some 11 years later. Recommended.
Video: How does it look?
As mentioned above, the 2.35:1 picture has been enhanced for widescreen TV’s (finally). I had the old disc and did a few comparisons in picture in some scenes that I thought looked noticeably better in the newer version. And they did. The level of detail has been kicked up a few notches and the colors appear warmer and brighter throughout. The artifacting, which plagued the original version, is not nearly as evident here. The picture appears crisp, solid and a vast improvement throughout. A far better effort here (amazing what 16:9 enhancement and a few years in technology will do).
Audio: How does it sound?
DTS. Paramount. So it begins…I was very excited to learn that Paramount was entering the DTS market as I was when Warner put out a few titles in the superior format a few years back (Interview with the Vampire, Twister and the Lethal Weapon Movies). With Warner, I guess it didn’t really click, but hopefully Paramount will keep with the format as I found the track a vast improvement over the included Dolby Digital track (which was identical to the previous edition’s track). Surrounds are very active, and almost too active. I found myself turning around to see what effects came out of what speaker. Though a somewhat dialogue-driven movie in parts, the sound impressed me. I can only hope that the studio keeps with DTS, as I believe that it’s far superior to Dolby Digital (though neither is bad).
Supplements: What are the extras?
Though labeled a Special Edition, there really isn’t a wealth of supplements to be found here. Most notably the main featurette here is the 25-minute interviews with the cast and crew of the film. Anne Archer, Harrison Ford and James Earl Jones are all interviewed here talking about their parts and seem generally excited about them. The featurette is presented in a 16:9 format, which is very nice. A good feature here, with a glimpse of an alternate ending as well. Additionally, there is a theatrical trailer. With the new picture and sound, this is an easy recommendation and I’m sorry, but if you already own this disc, then you’ll need to upgrade. No question about it.