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Paramount Home Video presents
Patriot Games (Blu-ray) (1992)

"I'm after the man who tried to kill my family."
- Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford)

Review By: Matt Serafini   
Published: September 12, 2008

Stars: Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Sean Bean
Other Stars: James Earl Jones, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Phillip Noyce

Manufacturer: Paramount
MPAA Rating: R for Violence, language, some brief sexuality
Run Time: 01h:56m:44s
Release Date: July 29, 2008
UPC: 097361376387
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

If there's any real problem with Patriot Games, it has nothing to do with the film itself (at least, for my money). Itís a solid little thriller on its own, but it happens to be nestled in between two far superior films in the Jack Ryan franchise. That wasnít much of a problem when it was released in 1992, but when Harrison Ford returned to play Jack Ryan for a second time two years later (in Clear and Present Danger), I immediately preferred his second outing in every regard.

In Patriot Games, Jack Ryan, ex-CIA analyst, is with his wife and daughter in London when he interrupts the would-be assassination of a Royal Family member. Hailed as a hero, Ryan returns to the states only to discover that his family have become targets of a vengeful IRA terrorist (Sean Bean) whose brother was killed by his hands.

The film features an extensive cast of excellent actors, all of whom deliver solid performances, and a director who was firing on all cylinders in the early 1990s (this was, of course, before that dreadful Val Kilmer vehicle, The Saint). Philip Noyce shoots the action sequences in a very personal manner—investing the viewer in the proceedings with the freeway attack on Ryanís family being an especially harrowing bit. He also lays down a rapid-fire pace, which helps first-time viewers gloss over the occasionally spotty script work done by W. Peter Lliff and Donald Stewart. The end result is an enjoyable suspense thriller with some small shortcomings.

Patriot Games greatly benefits from the casting of Harrison Ford in the lead. Whereas The Hunt for Red October gave us a Jack Ryan who was the very definition of a CIA spook, Fordís Ryan allows the audience to see the man behind the career. It's important since this is a greatly personal story at its core: a family man determined to keep his family safe at all costs. Ford wins the audience over effortlessly here, selling the everyman whoís left his career behind to concentrate on his family. While the personal content of Patriot Games seems somehow less exciting than the political intrigue of the surrounding installments, itís Harrison Ford that ultimately makes everything here click.

At the end of the day, Patriot Games is solid. The politics typically found in a Clancy story are mostly jettisoned in favor of the revenge aspect of the story. Itís the angle played up the most and ultimately, what characterizes this movie. Of the first three Jack Ryan films produced, Iím confident in calling this the weakest of the series, but still a good movie.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: If you've been reading Blu-ray message boards these days then you're certainly no stranger to the acronym, DNR (digital noise reduction). Much has been written about Fox's recent botched Patton release and I'm sad to report that Patriot Games doesn't fair much better.

The worst examples of DNR on display here are during closeups of the actors. Fleshtones are wavering and hazy. There's also evidence of compression artifacting occuring intermittently during some of the exterior backgrounds. There's also edge enhancement painfully evident during some of the darker scenes. For example: there's a nicely shot moment where a group of assassins descend upon a church. The building and the approaching killers are shot entirely in the black against the juxtaposing blue sky. But you can see the edge enhancement outlining every black silhouette on the screen.

That said, this isn't an unreasonable transfer. Despite DNR, details are still crisp. Exteriors are rich and textured while fleshtones, still shaky thanks to the DNR, are appropriately colored. This disc most certainly is not reference material, and it's obvious that older titles CAN look incredible (Warner's recent Blu-ray release of their catalogue title, The Lost Boys springs into mind), but this is the best the film has ever looked on home video. I'm comfortable recommending this title to any curious parties except for those who must have a flawless release each time out.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
Enlgish (TrueHD), French, Spanish (5.1)yes

Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 TrueHD track is, thankfully, stronger than the video presentation. Side speakers are consistently given a workout while the surround speakers boom and thunder with every piece of action and carnage. This is a stronger, more confident surround track than Paramount's prior SD release (which was 5.1). My only qualm is that sometimes the rear speakers seem suspiciously considering what's happening on screen.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Documentaries
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Save for the trailer, the single solitary extra feature is a 25-minute documentary called Patriot Games Up Close(25m:14s) . It's a good documentary that was originally prepared for Paramount's SD rerelease of the film. Providing a revealing look at the production, we get participation from Ford, director Noyce and several members of the cast and crew. (Sadly, Tom Clancy is absent). I would have liked a little more depth, but it's an entertaining watch.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Paramount's Blu-ray bow for Patriot Games might be a bit of a mixed bag as far as the audio and video are concerned. Paramount seems guilty of applying too much digital noise reduction to their high definition releases these days, and this title is no exception. That said, this presentation is a respectable way to view the movie and those building up their Blu-ray libraries might want to give this one a go if they're a Jack Ryan fan.


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