The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year:Paramount - 1992
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 116 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, Patrick Bergin, Sean Bean, Richard Harris, Thora Birch
Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Music by: James Horner
Written by: W. Peter Iliff & Donald Stewart
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 29, 2008
"Not for honor. Not for country. For his wife and child"
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).
My Take:Patriot games is solid thriller that introduces Harrison Ford to the Jack Ryan character. The story's tone is more personal and one dimensional than Clear and present danger. I think that Ford gave a more emotional performance here which came as no surprise based upon the nature of the story. Of all of the Clancy/Ryan films I felt that this one had the weakest group of characters (other than the staples). It seemed like a waste to have an actor like Richard Harris in the role of Paddy O'Neil. The character's part in the film had little significance although I am sure that he had more impact in the book. I couldn't help but feel like Sean Miller, Kevin O'Donnell and their minions were a bunch of inept assassins ONLY when it came to killing their primary target (s). They executed a daring and flawless rescue of Sean from the authorities while he is being transported, and easily manage to stay a step ahead of the law along the way to achieving other goals. The problem is the two failed assassination attempts on Lord Homes and the three failed attempts at retribution on Ryan and his family. The last of which occurs simultaneously at the Ryan's home after they successfully wipe out the entire armed security detail. They go in fully armed with night vision goggles and automatic weapons and can't compete with three men, two women and a little girl who initially are all unarmed. I don't mean to sound condescending because when all was said and done I do like the film. It moves along quite nicely and has plenty of suspenseful moments. Anne Archer and Thora Birch had larger roles and I liked the family oriented aspect of the story. I seem to remember liking it more the first time I saw it which was some time ago. I guess perhaps it felt a little dated because this re-visit left me feeling less enthusiastic about it.
Parental Guide:The rating is for violence, sexuality, and 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:
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 up close - Feature
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
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.
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