PATRIOT GAMES is a stolid, reactionary thriller in which the good old nuclear family becomes the last line of defense against that favorite action-movie staple, a group of international terrorists. In this wooden adaptation of Tom Clancy's best-seller, Harrison Ford plays Jack Ryan, an
ex-C.I.A. analyst who single-handedly foils an I.R.A. kidnap attempt while on vacation in London. Ryan kills one of the terrorists, which makes the young man's elder brother, Sean Miller (Sean Bean), really mad--so mad, he spends the rest of the movie either scowling moodily into the distance, or
trying to do away with Ryan and his family. Just in case there were any doubt about how bad the bad guys are, it's explained to us that Miller and his colleagues are not part of the regular I.R.A., but of an "ultra-violent" fringe group. The good guys, on the other hand, are a picture-perfect WASP
family portrayed with all the depth and sincerity of an L.L. Bean catalog. Ryan is a reluctant hero who, when asked why he intervened in the kidnap attempt, looks brave and earnest and says, "I just couldn't stand by and watch those people get killed." His devoted wife Cathy (Anne Archer) is a
brilliant eye surgeon who sails blithely into the operating room, performs a minor medical miracle, and then skips out in time to pick up her precocious daughter from school.
The action scenes in PATRIOT GAMES are handled efficiently, if unremarkably, by director Phillip Noyce (DEAD CALM), and a little extra color is provided by some good supporting players, particularly James Fox and Samuel L. Jackson. Our favorite parts, though, were the moments of unintentional
humor, mostly courtesy of Ms. Archer. Her insufferably goody-goody performance makes you wish Glenn Close would show up brandishing a kitchen knife.
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: PATRIOT GAMES is a stolid, reactionary thriller in which the good old nuclear family becomes the last line of defense against that favorite action-movie staple, a group of international terrorists. In this wooden adaptation of Tom Clancy's best-seller, Har… (more)