CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER
DIRECTOR: PHILLIP NOYCE
USA 1994
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Donald M. Macalpine
MUSIC: James Horner
CAST: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer, Joaquim de Almeida, Henry Czerny, Donald Moffat, Niguel Sandoval, Dean Jones, James Earl Jones
WRITTEN: Taken from Tom Clancy's novel.
ONE WORD: The story is top notch.


Even if Tom Clancy is not one of the best literati around, at least this film of his novel, based on his Jack Ryan series, is an excellently well done version.

And maybe it is that the director has decided that the point of view in this film will be totally subjective, and seen and understood only through Jack Ryan's eyes. And this helps the film stay focused, and not hint anything that might change, or affect our trying to figure out what will happen in this deadly chess game, where people are the pawns, and the CIA/WHITE HOUSE are playing one color and the CALI cartel is playing the other color. The only question is who will survive.

Well, we know who is telling the story, and who it is about, so it is safe to assume that Jack Ryan will make it through.

A friend of the president is killed in his yacht, which is accosted by the Coast Guard. As it turns out, the rich man had been a dealer in his spare time for some of the drugs that were being smuggled into the States. And the president, has to figure out what to do. Secretly he approves a plan to take place to undo the harm done. And a group of crack marines are asked to join up on the expedition to do a few things. And they do well at first, the element of surprise always helps.

But, somehow, they are found out, and because of political pressures from the left and right, these soldiers are hung out to dry. Jack Ryan is not pleased with all this. He did not approve the plan, it was already in action prior to his entering the scene, but he now has to live with the fact that by stopping the plan dead on its shoes is the same as allowing the soldiers to die. So he goes after the men. He manages to get through to the captain in charge, and takes a little time to show him that he is indeed going to be left alone to hang with his men. And after they finally see eye to eye, they go after the soldiers.

And inevitably, the story gets complicated. One of the people near one of the czars, happens to have been privy to some of the inner circle information through a secretary he had been dating. She may have been set up to be the courier of information, even by the higher ups for that matter, and since he knows what is happening, he also knows what he can do with it, which is to extort some more money from the drug lords, in exchange for their safety.

The complicated story, makes it to the end, and it is a shame that it doesn't continue into the court rooms and to congress, where some real damage could take place, and the finger pointing could get terribly nasty. But, it still is a powerful story that makes its point about covert operations, specially the ones where soldiers don't mean anything whatsoever, in the eyes of those vicious enough to do whatever they feel like doing.

Outstanding performances are given by Harrison Ford and Willem Dafoe, and the supporting cast. Few of them seem to be out of place, even the president.

Thoroughly well designed film, it stands out, and deservedly so. The technical aspects are well thought out, and the film, while complex and many layered, is not too difficult to follow. It is very well cut, and put together. Kudos to the director and the novelist.

4 GIBLOONS

 

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