Patriot Games

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Retired CIA agent Jack Ryan is pressed back into action when he rescues the English minister to Northern Ireland from a terrorist bomb. He kills one of the perpretators in the process inccuring the wrath of the man's brother who persues Ryan to the states swearing revenge on him and his family.


Harrison has for, an early 90s change, a decent haircut and is here doing what he does best — taking on a crowd of despicable baddies — in the slick second instalment of the adventures of Tom Clancy's Cold Warrior Jack Ryan.

This time out, Ryan's retired from the CIA to settle down in domestic-bliss style with sultry surgeon Anne Archer and their regulation Cute Child. Happily for the plot, they just happen to be on holiday in London, bumbling about Whitehall, in time for Ryan to foil a terrorist bid to snatch that ever-popular Royal HRH James Fox as one Lord Holmes, and henceforth the three Ryans are the object of a remorseless, irrational, trans-Atlantic revenge plot that builds up, in a really rather Cape Fear kind of way, to storm-tossed psycho-mayhem.

Certain aspects of this caper which will have been received with straight faces in Kansas don't pass muster here without provoking giggling fits. The rogue "Oi Arrr Ay" folk, as presented by the balaclava-ed messieurs Bergin and Bean, are given to brooding in dingy cottages with a Clannad video on the telly or — step forward, Richard Harris — meeting in smoky pubs to the accompaniment of beedle-dee-deedle-dee music, while The Brits, from m'lud Fox to — yes! — EastEnders' Lofty, are bungling twits to a man. And in a particularly hilarious visual non sequitur, a lavishly made-up Archer (who we have been told is a doctor, but they know we don't believe them) engages in a not-highly relevant spot of gag-making eye surgery.

However the upside is huge. In one fascinating sequence a covert death-squad raid on a terrorist training camp "somewhere in North Africa" is accomplished with chilling detachment, shown only on an infra­red satellite monitor as Ryan (and the audience) observe with dismay the CIA/US Naval Intelligence types coolly providing sporting commentary, "That's a kill!" and "Target neutralised!"

Ultimately, of course, the moral and political issues — and any sense of the complexities of the situation in Northern Ireland — are merely batted around to thicken the "man's gotta do what a man's gotta do" premise. Who better to do it in style, though, than Indiana Jones himself?

Apart from the odd titter, this is a sound formula suspense movie with spiffy set piece thrills, directed with assurance by Dead Calm's Philip Noyce and attractively played by the plausibly anxious principals.