When CIA Analyst Jack Ryan interferes with an IRA assassination, a renegade faction targets Jack and his family as revenge.
Good guys are real good, and the bad guys are real bad. Patriot Games is a more than serviceable thriller, perhaps a bit out of date when viewing it now, but still a very effective good against evil piece. The source material is so dense and intricate it was always going to be hard to condense that into a 2 hour movie, but I feel the makers manage to keep it fleshy whilst making the respective characters interesting and watchable. The acting on show is more than adequate, Harrison Ford is great in the role of Jack Ryan, he manages to portray him as a sensitive family man who can step up to the plate when things get ugly, and Anne Archer is solid enough as the wife and mother caught up in the web of nastiness unfolding. The baddies are led by the brooding Sean Bean who is a little under written, whilst Richard Harris is sadly underused. However, the action set pieces make their mark and thankfully we get a riveting final reel that cements the entertainment deal for time spent with the pic. It is formulaic to a degree, but that is OK if the combined efforts of all involved are spot on, and thankfully here they are. 7/10
Clearly Alec Baldwin was too exhausted after his submarine adventure in 1990, so Harrison Ford picked up the mantle of "Jack Ryan" - now a former CIA operative who is on the UK on holiday with his family. Hardly have the titles ended before he is embroiled in an IRA attempt to kidnap "Lord Holmes" (James Fox), a distant cousin of the Queen Mother. Intervening, he kills one of the attackers who happens to be the younger brother of the surviving attacker "Sean" (they kept it simple for Mr Bean). Of course he is sprung from police custody via some dinghies near Tower Bridge and next thing "Ryan" and family are the new targets of this vengeful terrorist cell. What now ensues is a really dry thriller that plods along with little to make it stand out. There is an irony that the IRA man is played by an Englishman, but neither Richard Harris nor Samuel L. Jackson really make much impression on this politically simplistic revenge vehicle for a star who is far from his best. The perilous scenarios rather lurch from frying pan to fire, but never with much jeopardy - before an ending at sea that at least gave the pyrotechnics folks something to do. It's not Tom Clancy's best book, and is really only a passable watch on screen.