Patriot Games (1992)

patriot games poster 1992 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visual: 7/10

Some good action sequences

Dull periods in the middle

Movie Info

Movie Name: Patriot Games

Studio: Mace Neufeld Productions

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  June 5, 1992

MPAA Rating: R

patriot games assassination attempt jack ryan harrison ford

I should have just gone to the Tower of London

While in London, Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) thwarts an IRA terrorist attack on Lord William Holmes (James Fox) leaving Sean Miller (Sean Bean) seeking revenge.  When Miller escapes custody and targets Jack, his wife Cathy (Anne Archer), and their daughter Sally (Thora Birch), Jack finds himself pulled back in to the CIA as he tries to root out the splinter group of the IRA which has gone underground.  Sean is relentless, and Jack must locate him before he finds his family.

Directed by Phillip Noyce, Patriot Games is an espionage action-thriller.  The film adapts Tom Clancy’s 1987 Jack Ryan novel and is the second film featuring Jack Ryan after The Hunt for Red October from 1990.  The film was released to positive reviews and a strong box office return.

While espionage and spy thrillers are interesting, I’ve never found Jack Ryan to be that compelling of a character.  He’s better character than someone like Robert Langdon from The Da Vinci Code, he isn’t as compelling as an actual spy like James Bond or Ethan Hunt.  He’s a pencil pusher thrust into action (which I realize is supposed to be his appeal).

patriot games satellite surveillance jack ryan harrison ford

Exciting satellite surveillance scene that could be done at home by someone at Google now with better quality

The movie does have a lot of action…at points.  The opening sequence with the assassination attempt, the interstate attack, and the final sequence with the home raid are pretty compelling and exciting…but there is a lot of work to get there with a middle sequence as Ryan negotiates with the CIA on locating and attacking the group and debating with the IRA representative (played by Richard Harris).  It does a decent job keeping the movie moving, and at two hours, it isn’t as bloated as some similar type movies.

Harrison Ford was at the peak of his “everyman” phase in this film.  Replacing Alec Baldwin, his Jack Ryan feels like he could pick up a gun but also feels at home in the classroom (mimicking his Indiana Jones character).  I like both Anne Archer and Thora Birch as Ryan’s family (and Birch in particular demonstrates an early acting ability).  The movie has supporting roles for James Fox, Samuel L. Jackson, Richard Harris, and Sean Bean as the “villain”…which Bean always seems to be pull off.

patriot games boat chase

I think all movies should end with a burning boat chase!

With the everyman type thriller, extreme action isn’t always the goal.  The movie has a few punchy sequences, but things like the raid on the militant camp is watched from satellite views in a room.  With this in mind, it feels almost extreme and unrealistic when Jack Ryan is thrown into more action-based sequences like the battle on the boats because I don’t know that relatively out-of-shape Harrison Ford could take out a man who has been training to be a killing machine soldier for months.

Patriot Games is ok…it is better than average, but not a great film.  Will you enjoy watching it?  Probably, but it isn’t the type of movie that sticks with you.  I sat there watching and questioning if I had seen it before as I watched it…I don’t think I had, but it has that generic feel that makes it feel like every other action movie.  Harrison Ford returned to play Jack Ryan again in Clear and Present Danger in 1994.

Related Links:

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

Jack Ryan:  Shadow Recruit (2014)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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