Release Date(s)1994 (August 21, 2018)
Studio(s)Mace Neufeld Productions (Paramount Pictures)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: D
[Editor’s Note: This film is currently only available in the U.S. in the Jack Ryan 5-Film Collection in 4K, but it will no doubt be released by itself internationally and domestically at some point in the future, thus we are reviewing each film in the set individually.]
Harrison Ford returns as Jack Ryan, who gets drawn more deeply into the murky world of government politics and espionage when his mentor, CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence James Greer (James Earl Jones) becomes gravely ill. Ryan accepts an offer to serve in Greer’s place, and soon finds himself the fall guy for a White House sanctioned – but highly illegal – operation to take down Columbian drug lords. Anne Archer reprises her role as Cathy Ryan from Patriot Games, while Willem Defoe joins the cast as John Clark and Donald Moffat appears as the President.
Philip Noyce is back in the director’s chair for this third film in the Jack Ryan franchise, with a grittier script this time credited to John Milius (who wrote the first draft), Donald E. Stewart, and Steve Zaillian (who presumably did a late polish), as well as another score by James Horner. Clear and Present Danger is a solid film, but it lacks a compelling foe and offers a rather paint-by-numbers plot that rarely allows its characters to reveal much depth or complexity. It’s missing the flair of The Hunt for Red October (see our review of the 4K disc here) and somehow manages to be a little muddier than Patriot Games too. It also marks Harrison Ford’s final turn as Jack Ryan though (if you squint sideways) it’s easy to consider Wolfgang Petersen’s Air Force One a sort of unofficial sequel, with Ford playing the President of the United States – fans of the Tom Clancy novels will know that Jack Ryan becomes president in the book Executive Orders.
Like the two entries before it, Clear and Present Danger was shot on 35mm film using Panavision cameras and anamorphic lenses. Finished on film, it was scanned in full native 4K for its release on Ultra HD, has been given a restrained high dynamic range grade (in both HDR10 and Dolby Vision), and is presented here in the proper 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. On the whole, the 4K presentation is remarkably similar in quality to that of Patriot Games (reviewed here), with a noticeable improvement in fine detail and texturing over the previous Blu-ray, though a few shots are occasionally a little optically soft. The HDR grade is subtle, but enhances the shadows and delivers more natural brights. The film’s color palette is again muted, but the wider color gamut and HDR combine to give its hues more nuance. This is a not an eye-candy presentation, but fans will appreciate that it serves the film quite well.
Audio on the UHD is again offered in a solid English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix carried over from the previous Blu-ray. It features excellent clarity and dynamic range, good low end, crisp dialogue, and plenty of ambience. This film also features a good deal more in the way of gunplay and explosions, all of which sounds fine with strong surround directionality and smooth channel-to-channel panning. Horner’s score is well used in the mix and exhibits nice fidelity. Additional audio options include English Audio Description, 5.1 Dolby Digital in German, Spanish, Latin Spanish, French, Italian, and Russian, 2.0 Dolby Digital in Japanese, and mono Dolby Digital in Polish and Brazilian Portuguese. Optional subtitles are available in 31 different languages (including English and English for the Hearing Impaired).
There are no extras on the 4K Ultra HD disc itself, but you also get the film in 1080p HD via the previous Blu-ray edition, which adds the following:
- Behind the Danger (SD – 26:34)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:39)
The SD video quality of the featurette is very low, but it’s the best available. This isn’t much, but everything that was included on previous editions is here. You also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert.
While Clear and Present Danger is a decent entry in the Jack Ryan film series, it’s not likely to be anyone’s favorite. Still, there are solid performances and the action is workmanlike. Paramount’s new 4K Ultra HD edition is no frills, but offers notable detail improvements and definitely presents the film looking better than it ever has before at home.
- Bill Hunt