This is a favorite of mine and has a rockstar cast. Harrison Ford has taken over as Jack Ryan. Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings) is the Irish Sean Miller. James Fox, ironic that he’s Lord Holmes here since he was in Robert Downey Jr’s Sherlock Holmes film. There’s a young Samuel L. Jackson (before he was Nick Fury) as Robby and James Earl Jones reappears as Admiral Greer.
Jack is on vacation in London with his wife and daughter, though he does give a speech to the Royal Naval Academy. He happens to be a passing bystander when an IRA splinter group makes an attack on the royal family (a cousin of the queen). [Yeah, this takes place during the Troubles, a violent era between Ireland and England; lot of hate…boils down to the Irish want England out of Ireland] Jack stops the group from shooting the royal family, disarms one man, shoots several others, and gets shot himself. One of the men he shot was Sean Miller’s younger brother; you can see in Sean’s eyes that he would kill Jack for it. Jack’s wife, Cathy, is a doctor and treats her husband at the scene; she’ll forgive him since he lived. Jack is lauded as a hero and the royal, Lord Holmes, bestows the honor of Knight Commander of the Victorian Order. Sean essentially vows revenge on Jack during the trial.
The Ryans return home and Cathy discovers that she is pregnant. In the meantime, Sean is being transferred, but there is still a mole somewhere; his transport is attacked and his fellow Irishmen get him out. The CIA visits Jack at home to let him know that Sean has escaped, but feel it is unlikely that Sean would be able to get to Jack and his family in the states. They do ask if he would like to return to the CIA; Jack turns them down and Cathy agrees with him. The IRA faction leaves Ireland so they can train and Sean struggles with his thoughts of revenge, while his leaders want to focus on the goal of freeing Irish political prisoners.
We see Jack in his element, teaching history at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland [my brother, a naval officer, did teach at the Academy for a few years; it is beautiful and there is indeed a picture of Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan, listed as a former professor in the history department]. Robby presents his friend with the Purple Target for actions beyond the call of duty of a civilian: in hopes that “he will duck next time, lest he become a part of history, instead of a teacher of it.” [one of my favorite quotes, lol] Catherine has also returned to her job. And the CIA was wrong; Sean is in Annapolis, targeting Catherine and Sally. There’s a young man waiting for Jack when he leaves the Academy out of Gate 3, to Hanover Street [it is known as the Jack Ryan gate now]. The man eventually pulls a gun, but Jack is prepared, sort of. A guard shoots the man when he pulls the gun and Jack notices a Jeep following him as well. He also realizes that it’s Sean after him and his wife and daughter may be in danger. He tries to get a car call through to his wife, but has to wait for her to finish her call to work. Sean’s van pulls alongside the car right after she hangs up with her husband and he opens fire. They crash into a barrier.
Cathy and the baby are alright, but Sally is in critical condition for a day. She will ultimately be okay, but Jack is perturbed at the IRA leader, Patty O’Neil denying that the IRA has anything to do with the incident. Jack walks back into the CIA and gets put on the team investigating the splinter group. He starts making connections and remembers seeing a red-haired woman at both attacks; in a car in London and in the Jeep in Annapolis. If they find her, they’ll find the leader (Kevin), and they’ll find Sean. Sean places a call to Jack at home, taunting him. Cathy tells her husband to get the man, whatever it takes. Jack decides it’s a good idea to provoke Patty O’Neil. O’Neil may disagree with the actions of the faction, but he’ll never sell out a fellow Irishman.
The faction has relocated somewhere in North Africa and manage to keep out of the satellite sweeps for a most part, until Jack asks for them to be re-tasked. It’s not great information they get, but it’s something. O’Neil even passes along information to Jack; the woman is English, not Irish, so he’s not betraying his countryman. Jack watches the hit made on the camp from a room inside the CIA; welcome to the new world.
Lord Holmes is making a visit to the U.S. and wants to stop by to see the Ryans and ends up invited to their welcome home celebration for Sally. He presents a medal to Jack, then the lights go out. They first think it’s the storm, but Jack has a feeling. He can’t raise anyone on the radio, so he tells everyone to hide. Indeed, Sean and his team are at the house, ready to invade. Jack discovers that the secretary was the mole in Holmes’ staff. The CIA gets word of the attack and sends back-up, but Jack fights off the team at the house first. He gets everyone outside and heads to the boats. He takes one and the team hurries to the other, Sean determined to follow him. When Kevin protests, shouting that the royal is more important, Sean shoots him and the woman and continues his pursuit. He jumps on to Jack’s boat and they struggle while the boat catches fire. Jack eventually forces Sean back on the anchor and bails before the boat hits rocks and explodes. It at least gives the rescue team an idea where he is. He holds on to his wife and daughter during the aftermath and in the final scene, they’re about to find out what the gender of the new baby will be. Well, Cathy knows.
Harrison Ford plays a great hero; he’s one who will always take a punch. Then he comes back swinging. It’s all very realistic. I like seeing the Academy and I like the action at the beginning and the end of the film. Research is understandably boring, but very necessary (never let anyone convince you it is glamorous). Are Hunt and Patriot Games outdated since the Troubles are over and the Soviet Union disbanded? Not to me. I may not have been around during their heyday, but I remember the aftermath. I’ve been to Belfast; I’ve seen a school that had metal coverings on the windows to protect the children from rocks being thrown. There are murals mentioning Oliver Cromwell and his atrocities against the Irish. And that was probably twenty years or so after the Troubles ended. These are great action movies; yes, a bit dated due to the technology, but it’s advancing at such a rapid pace, it’s impossible for anything to stay current.
Next Time: A wrap up on Jack Ryan