There is a point in Clear and Present Danger
where the president (Donald Moffat), while grousing about the drug problem, mutters, “Just how stupid are these people that they think they can do anything?” This one statement sums up the film, which is a lot of powerful people who attempt to push their power to its extremes. The film's hero, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford), is not exempt from this description, even though he is the one good apple in a rotten barrel. Safe money is that he should catch at least one of the many bullets or rockets that head his way during the course of the film, and it is precisely this characteristic that makes him an interesting character. Ryan is not, as he is regularly called through the film, a boy scout, but a man whose rigid sense of right and wrong is the only effective way to counter the corruption he confronts. Ford understands this better than he did in Patriot Games
and his skilled performance in Clear and Present Danger
makes this Ryan different from other action heroes Ford has played. Willem Dafoe, as the mercenary Mr. Smith, is Ryan's dark reflection. A man with strong convictions, but one whose questionable methods make the two strange bedfellows. It is nice to see Dafoe back giving a good performance in a worthwhile movie. The film's biggest waste of talent is Anne Archer, returning as Cathy Ryan, who has nothing to do except encourage and worry about her husband. As in the preceding Jack Ryan films, advanced technology plays a huge part. Yet while the sequences heavy on hardware make for interesting viewing, they create lags in the action. C&PD
logs in just shy of two-and-a-half hours and you feel every second of it. However, there is enough intrigue to keep it interesting, and if it ever feels too slow, try counting the number of people who get betrayed. I lost count around betrayal number one billion.