Updated: Jul 5
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray Digital copy; 1992, R for violence, language, and brief sexuality; Streaming via Amazon Video, FandangoNOW (4K), Google Play, iTunes (4K, Dolby Vision), Vudu (4K, Dolby Vision), YouTube
Best extra: A 25-minute making-of documentary
AFTER THE PREMIERE of the first Tom Claney movie, "The Hunt for Red October," producer Mace Neufeld was already plotting future films, commissioning scripts for both "Clear and Present Danger" and "Patriot Games," the best options for the next Jack Ryan thriller.
"We needed to get to know Ryan and his family," Neufeld explains during the documentary. So, "Patriot Games," which finds Ryan's family under attack after he foils a plot to kill Lord Holmes (James Fox), a cousin of the Queen, was the first to get the green light. Next, Neufeld needed to ensure that Alec Baldwin was still game to play the CIA analyst. Neufeld felt he had already taken a chance with the 32-year-old actor, so "We could build a star." But this time around, Baldwin decided to bail out for a role on Broadway.
That became a blessing since the franchise turned to Harrison Ford. The 90's box office champ enjoyed playing the character so much he convinced gifted Australian director Phillip Noyce and the rest of the crew to make the next Ryan flick, "Clear and Present Danger."
An excellent support cast includes Anne Archer as wife, Dr. Catherine Ryan, Thora Birch as the precocious daughter Sally Ryan, Sean Bean as the vengeful terrorist Sean Miller, James Earl Jones as Vice Admiral James Greer of the CIA, Samuel L. Jackson as Naval Academy instructor Lt. Commander Robby Jackson and Richard Harris as Paddy O’Neil, a Sinn Fein spokesman.
Paramount has done a masterful job with “Patriot Games” part of the “Jack Ryan 5-Film: Collection” now available on 4K. The original 35mm camera negative was scanned and digitally restored in 4K, with balanced natural film grain and expansive clarity missing on the older Blu-ray edition. Noyce and fellow Aussie cinematographer Donald McAlpine captured Ford and the rest of the cast with Panavision cameras and anamorphic lens (2.39:1 aspect ratio) in London, Maryland and along the California coast, for that '80s and '90s cinematic feel. Numerous wide shots get the biggest boost with added clearness in distant buildings, waters from the Chesapeake Bay, and characters.
The HDR/Dolby Vision toning is also solid, with controlled contrast levels, plus an overall picture that’s slightly darker that features strong and bright highlights during explosions and fires. The black level is also darker without losing shadow detail, while the color palette is warm and rich without being oversaturated.
Overall, “Patriot Games” is a major upgrade, and the first of several more Harrison Ford movies schedule for 4K releases this year.
The soundtrack is another winner, featuring six-channel Dolby TrueHD track, that's also included on the Blu-ray with deep bass, bouncing sound effects and James Horner’s score with plenty of Irish orchestration with folk instruments and flute.
“Patriot Games” finished with a worldwide box office of nearly $180 million, No. 14 with U.S. receipts for the year, while Disney’s “Aladdin” landed No. 1.
— Bill Kelley III, High-Def Watch, producer