Patriot Games (1992)

Patriot Games (1992), directed by Phillip Noyce

This looks better now than it did at the time. It must be that current action films suffer by comparison: too frenetic, too much non-stop fantasy violence. Noyce, his photographer and editors know how to build tension and exploit it without going too far over the top. The pacing never goes slack and the sense of realism remains until the final scene with the boats, where implausibility reigns.

Harrison Ford does that thing he is so good at, a classic American film hero: the thinking man, not a tough guy but able to summon the resolve to do what needs to be done, especially when protecting his family. Anne Archer is not squeamish in dealing with threats; she's the same sort of character who plugged an insane bunny-boiler in another film.

Sean Bean knows how to be a rage machine. Cutting between him and the Ryan's perfect seaside Maryland home: I feel his resentment.

Better than your average thriller: Jack Ryan is taken into the command center to view the results of his research. Satellite infrared views of the terrorist camp attacked. It's what he wanted, but being human, he is troubled when watching it.

No motivation is given for the traitor among the Brits.

Polly Walker fanclub! With Thora Birch, age 10. Also: James Fox, James Earl Jones, and Richard Harris.

James Horner score.

Available on Blu-ray.