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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

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1.  Dragan Antulov review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
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Review by Dragan Antulov
3 stars out of 4

Those who don't approve current "humanitarian" bombing of rump Yugoslavia often refer it as "Clinton's War". Whether their argument is valid or not, the fact remains that U.S. administration, and its chief executive, have enormous powers at its disposal. Those powers, as any other, can be abused and the consequences of those abuses can be disastrous or even apocalyptic, not only for those directly affected, but for the rest of world, America included. One of the rare Hollywood movies that tries to cover that subject and deal with the murky line between long-term national and selfish political interest is CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, 1994 spy thriller and third in the series of movies based on the novels by Tom Clancy.

The movie begins when U.S. Coast Guard intercepts the yacht of wealthy American businessman and discovers the evidence of massacre. It turns out that the businessman used to be close friend of President Bennett (Donald Moffat), while in the same time having links with Colombian drug lords. Infuriated because of his friend's death, President orders secret war and assassination campaign to be conducted against drug cartel led by Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval). In the meantime, CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) becomes the deputy for his mortally ill boss, Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones). While investigating the series of violent events in Colombia, that start claiming toll in American lives, he discovers the evidence of US government's complicity. Facing both by drug lords and unscrupulous politicians and top bureaucrats in Washington, Ryan would do anything in his power to uncover the scandal and save his country and men from harm.

Although having the screenplay written by three different authors (John Millius, Donald Stewart and Steve Zaillian), CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, like very few movies in contemporary Hollywood, has a very complex, yet interesting and compelling plot. Unlike other two movies about Tom Clancy's hero Jack Ryan, this one doesn't present the bright post-Cold War picture of the world dominated by omnipotent American technology and military might. On the contrary, the film shows that even that power has limits, and biggest limit of them all is the fact that behind the super-weaponry lies the hand of human who can be imperfect and incompetent. As a result, unlike most of the films in the action genre, this one is dark, depressive and sometimes even disturbing, and the happy ending is hardly unambiguous.

Director Philip Noyce, whose best work so far is an excellent thriller DEAD CALM, worked with the script very well. Action scenes are very well shot, and movie cleverly paced, not allowing boredom for the viewers through the almost two and half hours of its time. Characters, on the other hand, seem a little bit card-board, but in films like this, they are secondary element. Anyway, this film has great acting names in small roles, but although they don't put their best efforts (including Ford, who probably couldn't do much with such straightforward hero), they do a fine job. Balance between cerebral and physical action is very well done. Unfortunately, film in the end changes its character - interesting, thought-provoking political thriller is downgraded with the finale in which we must suspend disbelief and see humble CIA bureaucrat Jack Ryan as Rambo-style action hero. The impression is even worsened with melodramatic scenes in the end, when Jack Ryan shows his patriotic moral superiority of a civil servant over pragmatic politicians. Those who know how the real world operates would have some trouble believing those scenes in the end. But, even with such flaws, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is a very fine piece of seldom seen brain candy from Hollywood.

Copyright 1999 Dragan Antulov

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