These drug cartels represent a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States. The third outing for Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan - and the second with Harrison Ford in the lead - is a tightly constructed political thriller. Condensing Clancy's door stoppers is no easy task, but the makers here, headed by director Phillip Noyce, have manged to keep the pic brisk and intelligent for entertainment worth. Plot essentially boils down to America's war on drugs and the Colombian cartel at the helm of such operations. Naturally all is a bit suspect in the American corridors of power, leading to corruption and abuse of power that puts Jack Ryan firmly at the front to sift and destroy the bad eggs staining the American Star Spangled Banner. This very much plays out for those who like a bit of politico subterfuge, whist being ok with long passages of like minded chatter is also a requisite. That we have a fine cast playing out the screenplay (Donald E. Stewart, Steven Zaillian and John Milius) is a big plus that gives credibility to the shifty machinations. There's a nagging annoyance throughout that this still should be a better film, especially given the overstretched run time of 2 hours 20 minutes, and the computer sections are dubious and the finale is something of a damp squib. However, we are in the company of great pros, both in front of and behind the camera - and also on the page (Clancy's brain superlative). With that in mind it's reasons to seek this out and enjoy if this splinter of political thriller is your bag. 7/10
Luckily, this final outing for Harrison Ford's "Jack Ryan" is far more entertaining that his previous "Patriot Games" shenanigans from 1992 - so the Queen Mother's other cousins can relax. This time, he is promoted into the shoes of his terminally ill mentor "Greer" (James Earl Jones) as Deputy Director of Intelligence at the CIA. Everyone is working on plans to shut down the infamous Cali drug cartel in Colombia, but it soon becomes clear that there are wheels within wheels in the US administration, traitors all over the shop, and "Ryan" looks certain to take the fall when the dominoes start to tumble. This is a solid espionage thriller, with a complex plot peppered with a few extended action scenes and some decent performances from Ford, Willem Dafoe as the betrayed enforcer "Clark" and the combination of Messrs. "Ritter" (Henry Czerny) and "Cutter" (Harris Yulin) make poor old "Jack" realise that he might well be safer on the side of the drug lords! It's a bit too long, and certainly it takes maybe thirty minutes of plot development to get going, but once it does it's a quality adaptation of a more cerebral story of corruption, deceit and ass-covering that still holds up thirty years later.
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