Clear and Present Danger [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Paramount Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (3rd November 2008).
The Film

Tom Clancy is a writer that likes to write, and this is clearly evident in the lengthy tomes he's penned. His books, unfortunately are rarely as interesting as the amount of effort he's put in them. Though there's no denying his intelligence, and knowledge of technology, his storytelling choices are at times a bit strange. However, among the meaningless techno-babble and unnecessary subplots, there is, at the core of every one of his books, a terrific story. This is why the movies based on his books are so strong; take away the superfluous elements and keep the good stuff, and you get one hell of a movie.

'Clear and Present Danger' is probably the best example of this. It's intricate without unnecessary blather, and all the story elements are necessary to tell the story. The characters are given time to breathe, yet every dramatic moment necessarily follows from the movie's story. The plot itself is well thought-out, without any extra bits slowing the movie down. Even at its length, the movie never seems long or tedious.

The plot here concerns drug cartels and the president wanting to stop them. Tom Clancy favorite, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford), is brought in to investigate what seems to be a simple murder, but, as he eventually finds out, nothing is as simple as it seems. Things get intertwined and the murder investigation leads to the cartel, which leads to the White House. The plot is a lot more intricate than this, but it''s never contrived or out of the realm of possibility (keeping in mind this is a movie). It's a very intelligently-written script by Donald Stewart and acclaimed filmmakers Steven Zaillian and John Milius.

Harrison Ford reprises the main role, and he's as good as the role asks for him. He's mostly reserved and somewhat sheepish until the going gets tough, then he takes control and shows the charisma he's known for. Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones, Anne Archer, Benjamin Bratt, and a young Thora Birch all appear in this movie, giving the movie a very strong acting base. Director Phillip Noyce, hot off the heels of helming 'Patriot Games' (and, well, 'Sliver'), packs in a nice amount of action and a good deal of suspense. This action thriller is a guy movie, but it's a well-made guy movie.

There have only been four Jack Ryan movies, and in my mind this is the best one. It combines all of the good points of Tom Clancy's novel and none of the junk. It's long, but tight, well-acted and well-directed. The twists and turns, though not completely unpredictable, are logical and fit in very well with the plot. The movie may have aged a little, as I don't know how many security agencies still use DATs, but a strong story is still a strong story. It's a movie that's better than the source book, and fans of intelligent action thrillers shouldn’t miss this one.

Video

2.35:1 widescreen, using the MPEG4/AVC codec. The picture is very good, especially for a movie shot back in the mid-1990s. The colours are bright but accurate. The jungle scenes have many greens and browns, but the picture is never murky or muddled. The scenes in Washington are sometimes slightly dull, but this is wanted. The skin tones are accurate, having the appropriate colours. Black levels might be a bit flat, and especially weak in one or two shots, but for the most part, the picture is very strong. Grain is also under control, though the level of detail might be a little bit soft thanks to some DNR. Overall, it's a very nice transfer.

Audio

The movie has a very nice English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track as the main offering, as well as French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs. The dialogue is always clear and clean, never muffled by what's going on, unless bullets are flying about and explosions are going off. The volume levels, then, are pretty accurate. Explosions may not seem to have the heft they would have in other movies, but I'll be nice and assume they're going for realism over bombast. They are however, pretty loud, and your subwoofer will like you. Gunshots and RPG hits are likewise loud and occur in the proper vicinity of your living room. The score is very nice and uses up all the speakers, creating a nice, tense atmosphere.
English, English (HoH), French, Spanish and Portuguese subtitles are provided.

Extras

Paramount decided to take the meager extras from the standard DVD Special Edition. First is the Behind the Danger featurette (26:34). Though the length may indicate this is more than just a standard EPK, but, unfortunately, this is not the case. Instead of taking 10 minutes to praise each other and give a vague overview of the movie's plot, this featurette takes 26 minutes to do this. Standard things, like the book, the plot, the actors and the director are talked about, but if you're looking for detail, read the 'Clear and Present Danger' book and wait until you come upon a description of a gun or a chopper.

Next (and last) is the theatrical trailer (2:39). It's actually pretty interesting to see how they advertised the movie and compare it with what they'd do today.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: C- Overall: B-

 


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