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Special Edition

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER ($20) is the second film to feature Harrison Ford as a cinematic version of the Tom Clancyís hero Jack Ryan. While I havenít read any of the Jack Ryan novels, it is fairly obvious that the role has been fine tuned to Fordís screen persona- as it had been in for PATRIOT GAMES, the actorís first time out in the role. Still the thinking manís hero, Ford seems to bring more of an assured physicality to the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan than did his predecessor. And, as action movies go, Ford's presence helps to make CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, one heck of an entertaining flick.

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER picks up the Jack Ryan story a couple of years after the events depicted in PATRIOT GAMES film. Ryan is further along in his career at the CIA, and after some unforeseen circumstances, he finds himself thrust into a top ranking position. The plot of CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER focuses on the drug war, in place of the cold war, and the situation that arises when a Columbian drug cartel murders a close personal friend of United States President Bennett (Donald Moffat). This leads to a covert operation in Columbia that is sanctioned by National Security Advisor James Cutter (Harris Yulin) and carried out by "retired" operative John Clark (Willem Dafoe). As the situation escalates, Ryan investigation focuses on the drug cartelís intelligence officer Felix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida), which eventually takes him in a direction that he doesn't want to go. The cast of CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER also features Anne Archer, Henry Czerny, Miguel Sandoval, Benjamin Bratt, Raymond Cruz, Dean Jones, Thora Birch, Ann Magnuson and Hope Lange.

Paramount Home Entertainment has made CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER available on DVD in great looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. Being the most recent of the three Jack Ryan movies being reissued on DVD, it should come as no surprise that CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is the best looking. The image appears somewhat sharper and better defined than the earlier films, as well as displaying the fewest blemishes and other signs of age. Colors are generally rendered at a fairly natural level of saturation and the flesh tones always look appealing. Some of the hues are more intense than others, but are always reproduced without noise or smearing. Blacks appear pure, whites are crisp and contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is very good and the image has a nice dimensional quality. Digital compression artifacts are very well camouflaged throughout.

Like the other two reissues, CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER features 5.1 channel soundtracks in both Dolby Digital and DTS. Like the video quality, the soundtrack for CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is the best sounding, by virtue of being the most recent film of the three. At the time CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER was in production, Hollywood was beginning the transition to discrete digital sound mixes, and this soundtrack definitely benefits from the shift in technology. There is better use of the surround channels for the filmís action sequences, including split surround activity, which wasnít utilized in the previous two jack Ryan outings. Much of the film is still dialogue driven, so these passages arenít as engaging as the action oriented moments, but everything is rendered with complete clarity. Fidelity is excellent across the board, with the sound effects being wholly convincing and James Hornerís score having a genuine musical presence. The bass channel is truly deep and delivers a few ground shaking moments. As for the differences between Dolby Digital and DTS, they arenít particularly large, but the DTS does create a more full-bodied bass and warmer, more realistic sounding music. A French Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded into the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the DVDís interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVDís supplemental section. Behind the Danger is a twenty-six minute program that looks back at the production of CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER through a series of interviews that feature director Phillip Noyce, producer Mace Neufeld, and actors Harrison Ford, James Earl Jones, Anne Archer, Donald Moffat, Harris Yulin and Henry Czerny. A theatrical trailer for CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is the only other supplement offered on the DVD.

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER is a really entertaining action flick, as well as being a great starring vehicle for Harrison Ford. Paramountís DVD reissue of the film looks and sounds terrific, making it a definite upgrade for fans and those that have invested in a wide screen display or those intrigued by the new supplemental content.



Clear and Present Danger (Special Edition) (1994)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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