Starring Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Alun Armstrong, Sean Bean
Paramount Home Video
Release Date: July 29, 2008
Though Jack Ryan was first portrayed by Alec Baldwin in the most popular entry in the series based on Tom Clancy novels, I always associated the character with Harrison Ford‘s portrayal. Ford brings a strong sense of moral integrity to the character. This is most evident is Ford’s portrayal in Patriot Games. Through happenstance, an assassination attempt on a British Royal by a rogue Irish terrorist group is foiled by Ryan, who kills one of the attackers in the process. Sean Bean plays one of the surviving terrorists, whose brother is the man killed by Ryan. What ensues is a duel game of cat-and-mouse, with both characters hunting each other across the globe. Maybe it’s not the smash that Hunt for Red October was, but Patriot Games is a solid political and character driven movie all around.
Of the four Jack Ryan films, Patriot Games stands the least to gain from a high definition transfer. The story gives us a much more personal look at the life of Ryan than the other stories do, and the major conflict is driven by the rage-filled vendetta of a single man. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any action, just not the kind that looks that much better in hi-def. A punch is a punch after all, and unless seeing every hair on Harrison Ford’s knuckles counts as “better” then is isn’t much to be done with it. The picture quality is crisp and clear throughout, though. There are not instances where the visuals can wow you, but the quality is stellar throughout.
Unfortunately, that is where the Blu-Ray benefits end. The special features are anything but, containing only the theatrical trailer and a “up close” documentary about the making of the film… the exact same bonus features released on the DVD version years ago. I don’t expect filmmakers to pull out all the stops for a re-release of a semi-successful action/drama, but they didn’t even phone in a commentary track. Paramount, perhaps still wiping egg off their face after abandoning Blu-Ray for HD-DVD just months before the format imploded, didn’t make use of any of the new technology. The least they could have done was make use of the picture in picture technology to allow viewers to watch relevant portions of the documentary during scenes to which they apply. Scratch that, they did do the least they could; they dropped a high-def transfer of the film on disc with the same meager bonus features from the DVD release and called it a day.
I really enjoy this movie, but given the lack of special features and eye candy, I cannot imagine anyone besides die-hard hi-def fans finding it worth the cost. The DVD version can be purchased for $9 on Amazon ($2 if you don’t mind getting it used) so unless you have a big screen HDTV and a Blu-Ray player that does not upscale DVD playback, there’s little reason to shell out $25 for the increased picture quality, which is really all you are getting.
Picture Quality: A -
Bonus Features: D