August 9, 1994 -- ``A Clear and Present Danger'' is reportedly the second in a three-film deal with Paramount that has Harrison Ford playing Jack Ryan in a Tom Clancy thriller. Sorry, this one isn't as good as the first one, ``Patriot Games,'' but it's passable entertainment.
In this film Ryan gets caught up in back-stabbing Washington politics when he has to take over as deputy director of the CIA for the ailing Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones).
Ryan goes before Congress to ask for an appropriation for the CIA, not knowing that some of the money will be used for an illegal covert operation to wipe out some Columbia drug lords.
A clever Colombian spy figures out a way to take advantage of the situation. He works out a deal with a high White House official to double-cross the American commando team in Columbia in return for lowered drug shipments to the U.S. and periodic arrests of drug dealers.
Ryan has to somehow gain the confidence of the commando leader (played by Willem Dafoe) and rescue the commando team. It's a pretty complicated story, but it is clearly told. Harrison Ford is stoic, heroic and likable as always in a role that demands little of him. James Earl Jones turns in a fine performance as the wise Admiral Greer, but most of the other characterizations are paper thin. The story also lacks a sense of urgency. Clancy really needs the Cold War to come back in order to make these kinds of stories work. Everyone is trying hard to make this drug lord business seem worth dying for, but it seems lame.
The film is also quite long at two hours and 24 minutes. It looked like at least 30 minutes could have been edited out without losing anything vital. For a big budget film, the special effects aren't very special, although the film does generate some suspense and the action sequences aren't bad. Despite some good efforts by the actors, this film rates only slightly better than average at a C+.
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