( Max score: 100 )
Harrison Ford stars as Jack Ryan in this explosive thriller based on Tom Clancy's international best-seller. His days as an intelligence agent behind him, former CIA analyst Jack Ryan has traveled to London to vacation with his wife (Anne Archer, Fatal Attraction) and child (Thora Birch, All I Want For Christmas). Meeting his family outside of Buckingham Palace, Ryan is caught in the middle of a terrorist attack on Lord Holmes (James Fox, The Russian House), a member of the Royal Family. Ryan helps to thwart Holmes' assailants and becomes a local hero. But Ryan's courageous act marks him as a target in the sights of the terrorist (Sean Bean, Stormy Monday) whose brother he killed. Now Ryan must return to action for the most vital assignment of his life: to save his family. Costarring James Earl Jones (The Hunt For Red October).
Patriot Games comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
This video presentation was very similar to that of Clear and Present Danger. I think that this was slightly more consistent in its rendering of detail and sharpness. Well balanced contrast and brightness levels helped bring out detail in whites and kept brighter scenes from appearing washed out. Here are my comments from the Clear and present danger review :
Black levels are deep enough that scenes containing mixed content look well balanced with good dynamic range in dark areas. Detail in shadows provides enough visibility to make out shapes and textures in backgrounds. Color reproduction was solid and didn't exhibit over saturation or smearing. Flesh tones were right on the money with nice variation and natural tonality. Detail and sharpness was a mixed bag. At times I felt that resolution didn't have the definitive clarity and fine articulation of good high definition. This was especially true in close up shots. Longer panning and distant sequences appeared better resolved but still lacked the three dimensional quality of the better HD video I have seen. To my eyes the video had an overly processed look that might be consistent with artificial sharpening but I didnt notice halos around objects. This tended to obscure fine detail within the image and gave it a slightly duller appearance. On the flip side there were many instances where the video exhibited better vibrancy and cleaner elements that gave it more pop. I had a hard time evaluating this one because it had the potential to look very good at times and just okay at others. Grain was visible in fine layers and appeared to be well preserved. I saw no signs of compression artifacts and with the high bitrate encoding bit starvation was no problem. The end result was that this is the best that I have seen this film look.
The lossless Dolby TrueHD sound faithfully reproduced the soundtrack's elements which when compared to the DVD offered a slight but noticeable improvement. This is not a very dynamic soundtrack to begin with and this was evident in the form of dull sounding gunfire and explosions that lacked forceful impact. The front three channels carry the majority of the track's audio with the surrounds being used sparingly for ambient delivery of the music score and background filler. Dialogue was clear and concise through the center channel. Imaging up front was on the narrow side which made panning sequences feel a bit compressed. Low frequency effects were present in the mix but didn't deliver any memorable impact. There are a few explosive moments in the film. During these scenes bass reproduction was present but lacked deep extension. While I would have liked to have seen better dynamics and more aggressive bass I didn't feel that this was attributable to the encoding or necessarily detracted from the enjoyment of the film.
The bonus supplements offered here featured a 26 minute making of documentary with cast/crew interviews and behind the scenes footage which was pretty informative. A Director's audio commentary track and theatrical trailer (in high definition) rounded things out with little fanfare.
Patriot Games is another successful film adaptation from a Tom Clancy novel based upon the Jack Ryan character. Its story does not have the action based elements of the other Ryan films but I think that is where it succeeds. I like Harrison Ford in the lead role and thought that his dramatic performance in this film was the better of the two. Paramount has brought it to high definition Blu-ray Disc featuring good (not stellar) video and audio quality. I think that the sparse bonus content will disappoint fans. Technically this is far and away superior to the standard definition DVD version which makes it a must have for fans of the film.