Release Date(s)1992 (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.]
It’s often been reported that Alec Baldwin was unavailable to resume the role of Jack Ryan in Patriot Games, the sequel to The Hunt for Red October, but the truth is that one of the film’s producers saw an opportunity to recast with a more bankable star in Harrison Ford. For his part, Ford is quite solid as Ryan, not especially better or worse than Baldwin, but he does retain the character’s “in over his head” nature while adding a likable everyman quality that’s uniquely his own. Unfortunately, the producers were only able to sign Ford for two films, neither of which is as good as Red October.
This time around, we find Ryan retired from the CIA and working as a professor of history at the United States Naval Academy. He’s been invited to give a guest lecture to British military officers in London and has brought along his family. As he’s meeting up with them outside Whitehall, Jack finds himself in the wrong place at the right time and manages to thwart an IRA splinter group’s attempt to assassinate members of the British royal family. In the process, he kills the brother of one of the assassins (played by Sean Bean), who subsequently swears revenge, escapes British custody, and goes after Ryan and his family back in the States.
Australian director Philip Noyce takes the helm from McTiernan this time around, with Anne Archer as Jack’s wife in the place of Red October’s Gates McFadden. James Earl Jones is the only carryover as the CIA’s Jim Greer, while Samuel L. Jackson joins the cast as Jack’s friend and fellow instructor at the Naval Academy. You’ll also recognize touches of what would blossom into the score for Braveheart in the work of composer James Horner. And while the film is once again based upon a novel by author Tom Clancy, it’s worth noting that he disowned its script as diverging too greatly from his original story.
Like The Hunt for Red October (reviewed here in 4K), Patriot Games was shot in 35mm with Panavision cameras and anamorphic lenses and was finished on film. It was scanned in full native 4K for its Ultra HD release, has been given a high dynamic range grade (in HDR10 and Dolby Vision), and is presented here in the 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. As much more of this film takes place in broad daylight, there’s a noticeably greater improvement in fine detail and texturing here, a bit more than is obvious in the Red October 4K transfer. The HDR grade is restrained, but enhances the shadows and makes the brightest areas of the frame more natural looking. The film’s palette is once again somewhat muted, but the wider color gamut and HDR also add nuance and naturalism to the colors. Again, this isn’t going to please those looking for 4K eye candy, but fans will certainly recognize that this film has never looked better than it does here.
Audio is included on the UHD disc in another 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. The nature of Patriot Games is that it’s more traditionally dramatic and less action-oriented than the previous film, but when the gunfire does erupt, there’s strong directionality and smooth panning. 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 Czech and Japanese, and mono Dolby Digital in Hungarian, Polish, and Brazilian Portuguese. Optional subtitles are available in 31 different languages (including English and English for the Hearing Impaired).
There are no extras whatsoever on the 4K Ultra HD disc, but the package also includes the previous Blu-ray edition, which offers the film in 1080p HD with the following extras:
- Patriot Games Up Close (SD – 25:14)
- Theatrical Trailer (HD – 2:31)
It’s not much, but at least there’s nothing from previous editions that’s missing. You also get a Digital Copy code on a paper insert.
Patriot Games is a solid enough film, if also a somewhat disappointing follow-up to The Hunt for Red October. Still, Sean Bean makes for a good one-dimensional foil for Ford, who is as likable here as ever. Fans will be pleased to know that the new 4K scan is low-frills but lovely and serves the film well.
- Bill Hunt