Mr. Ryan Goes to Washington
So here's the good news, I've never read Tom Clancy's novel on which "Clear and Present Danger" is adapted so there will be no whining about it not being true to the source. But the bad news, there is a lot going on in this movie but for very little pay off and in fact cut out about 40 minutes of what seems padding and "Clear and Present Danger" would have been so much better. The trouble is that for all the storyline and there is a lot of story from a secret army to double dealing it all boils down to Jack being a good boy scout and saving the day by doing the right thing. And if you don't know what that means, well it means some frantic looks, some in your face arguing, a bit of action and then Jack confronting those behind a lot of trouble.
After a friend of the President's is murdered on his boat with his family the President demands action and by action it means an under hand attack on the drug Cartels responsible for the murder. At the same time Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford - The Fugitive) finds himself stepping in to Admiral Greer's (James Earl Jones) shoes when Greer is diagnosed with terminal cancer and by stepping in finds himself being kept out of the loop on this secret attack. As Jack digs around trying to discover what was going on between the drug cartels and the President's friend he finds himself in the midst of this secret war.
"Clear and Present Danger" is 141 minutes long and whilst I don't mind long movies this is one movie which suffers for being so long. The trouble is that there is too much story crammed in as we go from the Coast Guard discovering the murdered friends of the President aboard their boat to conflicts between drug Cartels in Bogotá. Now some of the story is needed, there is double crossing, secrets, betrayal and the friendship between Jack and Admiral Greer as Greer faces death. But everything seems over developed, scenes go on too long and minor elements which in reality don't need much screen time take up too much as in the relationship between a Cartel operative and a Senator's secretary.
The outcome of so much going on is whilst "Clear and Present Danger" never becomes impossible to follow it does become a slog and the lack of decent pacing is a problem. And to be honest for all the dressing up over secret missions, betrayals and so on what this movie is, is just about Jack discovering the truth, doing the right thing and getting caught up in some action. Now the action side of it is good even if you do have to wade through a lot of story to get to it but as for Jack doing the right thing, well Jack should run for Senate, he is such a good boy scout that he would give Jimmy Stewart's Mr. Smith a run for his money. It is a little corny how virtuous Jack is and that side of things is for me overplayed in this 3rd Jack Ryan movie.
But having said that Harrison Ford delivers the character of Jack Ryan nicely, a good guy, a hero, bit of a comedian occasionally and just a real nice chap who will do anything for his fellow American. And to be honest the entire cast does a good job be it Willem Dafoe as the leader of the special ops John Clark or Donald Moffat who satirizes a slight stupid President quite nicely. Even the small parts such as expert marksmen Domingo Chavez is well cast with Raymond Cruz doing a nice job of a small part.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Clear and Present Danger" is for me both too long and drawn out, but is still entertaining. But it seems for what is a simple movie they have over complicated things by including too much story especially when it comes to the minor moments which don't need so much screen time.