The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Paramount - 1994
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 141 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: MPEG-4 (AVC)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1, French/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones, Donald Moffatt, Henry Czerny
Directed by:Phillip Noyce
Music by: James Horner
Written by: Donald Stewart, Steven Zaillian, John Milius
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 29, 2008
"Watch your back Jack"
This is the third film based on Tom Clancy's high-tech espionage potboilers starring CIA deputy director Jack Ryan. Harrison Ford, returning to the Ryan role after his first go-round in 1992's Patriot Games, is assigned to a delicate anti-drug investigation after a close friend of the President (a Reaganesque Donald Moffat) is murdered by a Colombian drug cartel. When Ryan discovers that the President's wealthy friend was in league with the cartel, the President's devious national security adviser (Harris Yulin) and an ambitious CIA deputy director (Henry Czerny) send a secret paramilitary force into Colombia to wipe out the drug lords. The force is captured and then abandoned by the President's lackeys. It falls to Ryan to enter Colombia and rescue them, aided only by a renegade operative named Clark (Willem Dafoe), with both his life and career on the line.
Clear and present danger was the first film in the series that I saw and it remains my favorite. I love its blend of drama, action, suspense, strong characters and superb casting. The tangled political web that the story weaves is right on the money. There are several bad guys on both sides of the equation which I found appealing. Ernesto Escobedo is certainly a drug lord that deserves what he gets but I found myself rooting for him during the film. I think this was mainly due to Cortez' treachery and I wanted to see him get his comeuppance. Henry Czerny plays Ritter's cold, steely eyed, self indulgent I call them as I see them demeanor to pure perfection and is my favorite bad guy in the film. The film's action based sequences such as the entire rescue from the Lindo Coffee factory and ambush of the motorcade in Columbia are great. The loss of Admiral Greer, the weak political leadership, and the cat and mouse played between the Ritter/Cutter/Clark, Jack and Cortez/Escobedo all contributed to the films dramatic elements. When I think of Jack Ryan, Harrison Ford is immediately who comes to mind. That is not meant to be a slight to anyone else who has portrayed the character but is strictly my opinion. I enjoyed all of the films in series but this is the one that I reach for first.
The rating is for intense action, violence and language. There is no graphic violence or language.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Clear and present danger comes to Blu-ray Disc featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 31 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD audio that has an average bitrate of 3.4 mbps.
I had high hopes for this video presentation because I have only ever seen it on letter boxed non-anamorphic DVD which looked atrocious. I am happy to report that it looks considerably better than my old DVD but not quite as pristine as I had hoped. Contrast is up which gives the video a dynamic overtone in bright scenes. Black levels are deep enough that scenes containing mixed content look well balanced with good dynamic range in dark areas. Detail in shadows provides good visibility of 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 sort of 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 of 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 audio presentation was quite good and seemed to preserve and enhance the strengths that made the lossy Dolby Digital sound mix desirable. Dynamics were solid which increased the potency of gunfire, explosions, and sound effects. The sound field bristled with a blend of both discrete and ambient sounds which made it easy to get caught up in films captivating moments. The rescue sequence at the coffee factory had a little bit of everything and sounded excellent. Dialogue through the center channel sounded clearly defined with discernible variety and good intonation. Imaging across the front three channels had distinctive separation with seamless pans and open sound staging. Low frequencies had above average impact with palpable room penetration that seemed to blend well with the rest of the system. This lossless audio mix had stronger dynamic presence and improved clarity over its Dolby Digital counterpart.
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.
- Behind The Danger - Cast and Crew interviews
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
Clear and present danger is one of my favorite Harrison Ford films. Its great story, excellent thematic components and superb cast sets it apart in my book from the other Clancy/Ryan films. Paramount has brought it to high definition Blu-ray Disc featuring good (not stellar) video and very good audio quality. This is far and away superior to the standard definition DVD version which makes it a must have for fans of the film.
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