Thursday, 1 September 2016
Movie Review: Clear And Present Danger (1994)
Cali Cartel drug lord Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval) instigates the bloody murder of a corrupt American businessman and his entire family. Unfortunately for Escobedo, the murdered man was a personal friend of US President Bennett (Donald Moffat), who hints strongly to his National Security Advisor James Cutter (Harris Yulin) that he wants to exact revenge through a CIA-funded dirty war. Cutter authorizes Bob Ritter (Henry Czerny), the CIA's Deputy Director for Operations, to take action. Cutter hires John Clark (Willem Dafoe), a Panama-based mercenary, to mobilize a commando group and go after Escobedo's assets.
With the CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence Jim Greer (James Earl Jones) in ailing health, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) is promoted and finds himself at odds with Ritter, who wants to keep the intelligence group in the dark while potentially setting up Ryan to take the fall in case the mission goes sour. Meanwhile Escobedo's chief advisor Félix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida) senses an opportunity to take advantage of the American rage and topple Escobedo from his perch.
The real bad guy is either Escobedo or Cortez, the film is never sure. And back in Washington, both Cutter and Ritter are unscrupulous careerist bureaucrats playing the multi-layered cover-your-butt game. Meanwhile Jim Greer is tottering about at the hospital burning through screen time but contributing little, while Jack Ryan is reduced to a non-entity, doing next to nothing to advance any of the numerous narratives. When Ryan and Clark end up hacking a path through the Colombian jungle to rescue surviving mercenaries, they appear as lost as the film's thrust. Meanwhile, Anne Archer as Mrs. Ryan wanders through the movie fascinated by the lack of anything meaningful for her to do.
There is one excellent action sequence to celebrate, Noyce delivering a thrilling ten minutes as a convoy of US government SUVs is ambushed on a dusty Colombian street. That despite the high ambush casualty count there appears to be no retribution or reaction from the US government speaks volumes about the film's flawed logic.
After this outing there would be no Jack Ryan movie outing for eight years, until 2002's The Sum Of All Fears with Ben Affleck taking over the role. This is one agent who clearly needed the long hiatus.
All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.