Jack and the Bean Stalker
Interesting fact, Harrison Ford was offered the role of Jack Ryan in "The Hunt for Red October" but as he felt it focused too much on the character of Ramius turned it down, with Alec Baldwin taking on the role. When Alec Baldwin was unable to make "Patriot Games" due to other commitments Ford was contacted and with a storyline which focuses more on Ryan he took the role. The thing is that in my opinion it all worked out, I couldn't see Ford as Jack Ryan in the first movie yet I couldn't see Baldwin as him in the sequel, the character had changed and in the end the right actor played the part in each movie. And with a change of director as well the feel to "Patriot Games" is different, maybe not as atmospheric as "The Hunt for Red October" but still entertaining.
Whilst in London with his wife and daughter Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) finds himself foiling an attempt to kidnap Lord Holmes (James Fox) when he spots several taxis containing masked men surround the Royal's car. But a moment of heroics leads to big trouble as not only was it a kidnapping attempt by a renegade faction of the IRA but having killed one of their men Jack is a marked man with his family in just as much danger. When one of the faction, Sean Miller (Sean Bean - Outlaw) escapes from prison he heads to America with the rest of the faction with one goal, to get revenge on Jack Ryan and make him pay.
One of the most remarkable things about the "Patriot Games" is that the storyline is so simple, Jack Ryan stops a renegade faction of the IRA kidnapping a royal and ends up a target as does his wife and daughter. And that is really it, there is some coming and going, one of these renegades is arrested and tried but escapes but it basically comes down to Jack having to deal with the fact that the Ryan household is in danger and has to use his skills both analytical and physical to protect his family. Maybe for some the simplicity of this story, which only gets close to depth when Jack has to break a promise by rejoining the CIA, is too simple but it works.
And the reason why it works is that the story is more of a traditional action thriller, less atmospheric and all about those moments where either Jack prevents the kidnapping or the renegade IRA faction try and get revenge. It's not all action; we do have desk bound drama as the CIA use satellites to try and pinpoint the location of the renegade IRA faction. But where as in "The Hunt for Red October" there was this constant tense atmosphere that has gone in favour of moments of action, be it an explosion on a highway or the big finale at Jack's home.
Now like with "The Hunt for Red October" there is an impressive cast in "Patriot Games" Anne Archer, Patrick Bergin, Sean Bean, Polly Walker, James Fox, Samuel L. Jackson and there is even a young Thora Birch as Jack's daughter Sally. But whilst we have many well known actors "Patriot Games" is all about what Harrison Ford does with Jack Ryan and it is not disappointing. You could say watching Ford as Jack Ryan now it is typical Ford because he delivers the action heroics in a tentative manner and has those moments of staring as he is cogitating on the facts as he did in various movies he appeared in after this such as "The Fugitive" and "Air Force One" but it works.
What this all boils down to is that "Patriot Games" is very much a run of the mill action thriller and that may not be true to Tom Clancy's novel because it is very ordinary. But at the same time it works and with Harrison Ford taking on the role of Jack Ryan we have a nicely paced action thriller which delivers exactly what you expect from an action thriller.