Clear and Present Danger (1994)


Starring: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe
Phillip Noyce

Rating: PG-13

Studio: Paramount

Review Posted: 4.30.03

Spoilers: Minor


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




Jack Ryan (Ford) is appointed acting CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence when his mentor Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) becomes gravely ill. His first assignment is to investigate the murder of one of the President's friends, a prominent U.S. businessman with secret ties to Colombian drug cartels. Unbeknownst to Ryan, the CIA has already dispatched a deadly operative to lead a paramilitary force against the Colombian drug lords. Caught in the crossfire, Ryan takes matters into his own hands, risking his career and life for the only cause he still believes in--the truth.




You can expect more action and excitement from Clear and Present Danger than from Patriot Games. To clarify, Danger is much bigger in scope and story. Returning characters change and affect the story. Actors Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, and James Earl Jones all reprise their respective roles. Phillip Noyce is back as the director as well and outdoes himself, creating a pretty good thriller.


Donald Stewart (RIP) adapted the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, but apparently received help from Steven Zaillian  (Schindlerís List) and John Milius (Magnum Force, a great Dirty Harry sequel). Stewartís script is huge as I imagine Tom Clancyís novel. The good thing about the script, however, is the structure. Despite its heavy plotted nature, the script is well written and focused. Multiple plots and story threads come and go in addition to a few very good action sequences. The dialogue and tension of twists or turns also come together quite nicely.


Danger is the longest in the Ryan series running 141 minutes and even though its story seems require such length, cuts could and should have been made. Danger offers an image of political power is very interesting and has a timeless sense, but more importantly it presents an issue that would be scary if it were ever to happen in reality. Clear and Present Danger is not better than The Hunt for Red October, but improves on the small discrepancies in Patriot Games.


8 out of 10


The Video


The all-new anamorphic widescreen transfer, which means it is enhanced for 16x9 televisions, looks fantastic. The print looks very clean and I noticed no artifacts or compression problems. Colors are alive and detail is sharp. The color palette is used nicely and fleshed out accordingly. I canít compare the video quality of this release with the previous one from some years ago, but I can safely say this transfer is really a lot better. Clear and Present Danger looks terrific in my eyes and thatís all I have to say about that.


9 out of 10


The Audio


Clear and Present Danger is available in two important soundtracks, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS Surround Sound. More prominent in this film than in Patriot Games is James Hornerís fantastic score. In this audio presentation, the score floods all the speakers and is elicits a captivating and moving experience. Other considerations of the surround usage include the explosions and sound effects. Dialogue is loud and clear. Also included is a French Dolby Digital Stereo track, but I didnít find much use for it since I donít speak the language very well. Clear and Present Danger sounds terrific in my ears and thatís all I have to say about that.


9 out of 10


The Extras


Behind the Danger Ė The behind-the-scenes element in this documentary is really fun to watch. Phillip Noyce explains the deconstruction of the brutal attack on the Chevy convoy in Colombia. The street modeled a location in Colombia but was constructed on a soccer field in Mexico, because permits for existing locations werenít granted. Thereís another interesting story about the mansion explosion, but itís best to let Noyce and Producer Mace Neufeld talk about it. Most of the all-new interviews are with the major characters of the film, including Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Donald Moffat, Harris Yulin, Henry Czerny, Miguel Sandoval, and James Earl Jones. However, Willem Dafoe did not participate and it would have been cool to see him talking. Behind the Danger runs approximately 25 minutes.


You also get the Theatrical Trailer, but thatís it. No commentary is included, but the documentary is there in place of it. In addition, English and Spanish subtitles are available. The menus are animated with the American flag waving in an out. The 141-minute feature is organized into twenty-three chapters. This DVD is the definite version of Clear and Present Danger and I think the subtitle Special Collectorís Edition signifies just that, despite a lone special feature and the omission of an audio commentary.


5 out of 10




Clear and Present Danger is a smart political thriller. It is also intriguing in its portrayal of executive power and the drama that unfolds in this particular story. This definite DVD release features a terrific video and audio transfer in addition to a very well made documentary on the film. Clear and Present Danger is a very good thriller and is recommended.


Overall DVD Rating: 7 out of 10 (not an average)




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