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Movie Review

Clear and Present Danger

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some intense action/violence and language

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Mature Teen to Adult
Spy, Action, Thriller
2 hr. 21 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
copyrighted poster
Relevant Issues
Box art for “Clear and Present Danger”

The Hunt for Red October

War in the Bible

What is the Biblical perspective on war? Answer

Featuring: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer, Joaquim de Almeida, Henry Czerny, Harris Yulin, Donald Moffat, Miguel Sandoval
Director: Phillip Noyce
Producer: Mace Neufend, Robert G. Rehme
Distributor: Paramount

“Truth needs a soldier.”

The final installment in the “Jack Ryan” trilogy that includes “The Hunt for Red October” and “Patriot Games,” this film again features James Earl Jones as Admiral James Greer (CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence) and Harrison Ford as Dr. Ryan (who becomes Acting Deputy Director when Greer is stricken with cancer).

The film’s title is a technical term used to justify extraordinary government action, and that’s exactly what we get. The entire family of a good friend of the President of the U.S. has been murdered. President Bennett (Donald Moffat) wants to know who did it and why. When Ryan informs him that it was a hit by a Colombian drug cartel headed by Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval), the President passes some vague and discreet instructions to Nat’l Security Advisor James Cutter (Harris Yulin), who in turn passes them to Deputy CIA Director Robert Ritter (Henry Czerny). Perhaps because of their integrity, Greer and Ryan are kept out of the loop as to what’s really going on.

This film has so many major characters that it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. Others the serious viewer needs to know are: Escobedo’s intelligence officer Felix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida), U.S. Field Agent Clark (Willem Dafoe), FBI Director Emile Jacobs (Tom Tammi) and his personal secretary Moira Wolfson (Ann Magnuson). Noticeable in bit parts are Benjamin Bratt as Strike Team Captain Ramirez, Hope Lange as Senator Mayo, and Dean Jones as Federal Judge Moore.


The language is strong, but much cleaner than in “Patriot Games.” The violence is severe for a PG-13. There’s one scene of sexual violence (a man no longer needs his girlfriend as an unwitting spy, so he snaps her neck in the middle of foreplay); and besides the implied killing of children in the opening scene, there’s a scene of a laser-guided bomb being dropped on several drug dealers and their families at a party.

The most disturbing element to me is the theme of the U.S. conducting a secret and illegal foreign war against the drug cartels, and then ruthlessly covering its tracks. The U.S. has indeed done a number of sneaky things in its history; I might be interested in a film based closely on one of those real-life events, but I don’t care for a fictitious story that just paints the entire government as dirty. Almost everyone in this film is guilty of something. The tagline is “Truth needs a soldier,” and of course Ryan will fill the need.

Some reviewers think this film is the best of the trilogy. I think “Red October” was the best, and it was downhill from there. I don’t particularly recommend this one; watch it if you can’t bear not completing the series.

Viewer Comments
Positive—The movie stays pretty true to the book, though not completely because of time. I think Tom Clancy knows his stuff, and shows it in the book and movie, and I recommend both.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Audie, age 30