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Clear and Present Danger

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Clear and Present Danger

Starring: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe
Director: Phillip Noyce
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 136 Minutes
Release Date: August 1994
Genres: Action, Suspense

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

God, I love Tom Clancy stories. I went to see CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER with high expectations and was never disappointed. I had read the book a few years ago when it first came out in hard cover. I could swear I had seen this movie before because some of the places, like in the drug lord's home, were exactly as I had imagined them from the book. Heavy deja vu.

Simply stated, the plot involves Latin American drug lords, covert operations, the president, the CIA, and most of all, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford). In it we have a government official testifying to congress about something that turns about to be totally false. After watching the recent hearings into the tip of the Whitewater iceberg, this show could not have been more up-to-date and relevant. Deja vu again.

The movie is filled with several action scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. My favorite is the one on Ryan's first trip to Columbia. Great tension. Watch for the excellent editing by Neil Travis and as he cuts back and forth between the good guys and the bad guys. The cuts and the action seem to speed up right along with your own increased heartbeat. The directing by Phillip Noyce showed a real understanding on how to bring a Clancy movie to the screen with maximum tension and suspense.

Other than Clancy's story, what makes this movie really click is Harrison Ford. I found myself reflecting on how smart it was for the studio to drop Alec Baldwin after the first Clancy movie (THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER) and replace him with Ford playing Ryan. Baldwin is fine in pretty boy roles (his best was in MIAMI BLUES), but he is out of his depth playing Ryan who is a complex and always highly vulnerable character.

Some of the supporting characters were great. My favorite was William Defoe as the CIA operative. One of his best roles I think. Anne Archer was wasted on the other hand. She played a wife who was basically "there."

My only complain with CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER was that at 2 hours and 16 minutes, it was way too short! There was a lot of material that was included but stuck in too abruptly by the screenwriters, John Milius, Donald L. Stewart, and Steven Zaillian, and not developed enough. A good example is the part of the FBI leader's secretary. 4 hours would have been perfect, but it would not have made much money. 3 hours would have been a better compromise I think, but then again, I am not a multimillionaire movie mogul so why should they take my advice.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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