Clear and Present Danger is a 1994 American political action-thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Tom Clancy’s 1989 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to Patriot Games (1992) and The Hunt for Red October (1990) (All three movies featured Clancy’s character Jack Ryan, though Ford only played the role in the last two.). It is the last film version of Clancy’s novels to feature Harrison Ford as Ryan and James Earl Jones as Vice Admiral James Greer, as well as the final instalment directed by Noyce.
As in the novel, Ryan is appointed CIA Acting Deputy Director (Intelligence) (DDI), and discovers he is being kept in the dark by colleagues who are conducting a covert war against a drug cartel in Colombia, apparently with the approval of the President.
Part of the Jack Ryan Franchise.
The discovery of the murder of an American businessman, Peter Hardin, and his family, outrages US President Edward Bennett, Hardin’s personal friend. When Hardin is found to have been connected to a Colombian drug cartel, from which he skimmed over $650 million, Bennett tells James Cutter, his National Security Advisor, that the cartels represent a “clear and present danger” to the United States, tacitly instructing him to use force against the men responsible for his friend’s murder. Jack Ryan, appointed acting Deputy Director of Intelligence after Vice Admiral Jim Greer is stricken with cancer, asks Congress for increased funding for ongoing CIA operations in Colombia, believing the funds to be for advisory purposes only.
Keeping Ryan in the dark, Cutter turns to CIA Deputy Director of Operations Bob Ritter to take down the cartel. Ritter assembles a black operations team code named RECIPROCITY with the help of John Clark. The team inserts itself into Colombia, with Clark running logistics and Captain Ricardo Ramirez of a SF-ODA team commanding the squad on the ground in clandestine search-and-destroy missions against the drug cartel. Meanwhile, Bennett sends Ryan to Colombia to investigate Hardin’s cartel connection.
The cartel leader responsible for Hardin’s murder, Ernesto Escobedo, is enraged when the US attempts to claim the $650 million that was stolen from him, and has his intelligence officer, Félix Cortez, try to retrieve the funds. Bennett sends FBI Director Emil Jacobs to meet Ryan in Colombia and negotiate for the money, and when Cortez discovers this, he plans an ambush, engineering it so that suspicion will fall on Escobedo. Ryan barely escapes the ambush by cartel hitmen, but the remainder of the entourage is killed. Escobedo then summons a meeting with other cartel leaders, which Clark’s team hits with an airstrike, but Escobedo is late arriving and survives.
Cortez discovers the American involvement in the strike, and meets with Cutter to broker a deal. Cortez will assassinate Escobedo and take over the cartel, promising to reduce drug shipments to the US and allow American law enforcement to make regular arrests to make it appear as if the US is winning the drug war. In exchange, Cutter will shut down all US operations in Colombia and allow Cortez to hunt down Clark’s soldiers. Cutter agrees and orders Ritter to get rid of all evidence of their operations and cut off the troops in Colombia from all support. Ryan is played a recording of the conversation between Cutter and Cortez. He hacks Ritter’s computer and discovers the conspiracy unfolding in Colombia.
The Reciprocity team is ambushed in Colombia by Cortez’s mercenaries. Ryan arrives and convinces Clark to allow him to help. They find the team’s sniper, Chavez, who tells them that Ramirez and a squadmate have been captured and the remainder have been killed. Ryan visits Escobedo’s mansion and shares his intelligence on Cortez. Enraged, Escobedo confronts Cortez, but is killed by Cortez’s associate. Ryan, Clark, and Chávez rescue the prisoners, kill Cortez, and escape.
Ryan confronts the President and tells him he intends to inform the Congressional Oversight Committee about the conspiracy despite the damage it could do to his career. As he walks out of the Oval Office, Cutter asks to speak with him, but Ryan ignores him. Ryan then begins his testimony to Congress.
- Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan.
- Willem Dafoe as John Clark.
- Joaquim de Almeida as Colonel Félix Cortez.
- Miguel Sandoval as Ernesto Escobedo.
- Henry Czerny as Bob Ritter.
- Harris Yulin as James Cutter.
- Donald Moffat as President Bennett.
- Benjamin Bratt as Captain Ramírez.
- Raymond Cruz as Domingo Chavez.
- Jorge Luke as Sipo (Cortez’s henchman).
- James Earl Jones as Jim Greer.
- Tom Tammi as Emil Jacobs.
- Tim Grimm as Dan Murray.
- Anne Archer as Cathy Ryan.
- Ann Magnuson as Moira Wolfson.
- Belita Moreno as Jean Fowler.
- Dean Jones as CIA Director Judge Moore.
- Greg Germann as Petey.
- Thora Birch as Sally Ryan.
- Ellen Geer as Rose.
- Hope Lange as Senator Mayo.
- Patrick Bauchau as Enrique Rojas.
After completing The Hunt for Red October, John McTiernan had wanted to direct an adaptation of Clear and Present Danger, and departed from the production after an early script by John Milius was rejected in favour of Patriot Games. Milius’s first draft was more faithful to the original book than the final film, and he later added the sequence where Jack Ryan is ambushed in SUVs. He said that the original ending had Cortez going to Washington to kill the National Security Advisor, only to be killed in a mugging by drug addicts. After Clancy’s dissatisfaction with Patriot Games, he was reluctant to allow any further adaptations of his material, but acquiesced after negotiations with Paramount Pictures and a large financial deal. In March 1992, Donald E. Stewart was hired to rewrite Milius’s script to provide greater screen time to Jack Ryan. After Clancy openly criticised the script, Steven Zaillian rewrote it further in an attempt to gain his approval. Milius was retained during production to provide consultation on the action scenes.
The film was shot in Mexico after the studio decided that filming on-location in Colombia was too dangerous, with Mexico City standing in for Bogotá and the Hacienda San Gabriel de la Palmas in Cuernavaca serving as a set for Escobedo’s headquarters. Ironically, the decision to produce the film in Mexico encountered further difficulties due to the outbreak of the Chiapas conflict. The film ran drastically behind schedule and over budget, and part of the footage shot in the United States was destroyed due to the 1994 Northridge earthquake. After negative results from test screenings, parts of the film were reshot using scenes written by Stewart and Zaillian.
The film’s musical score was composed by James Horner. Milan Records released an album featuring selections from the score on 02 August 1994.
An expanded two-disc collector’s edition was released in 2013 by specialty label Intrada Records. The new version now includes the complete score by Horner, remixed from the original scoring master tapes with cues appearing in the same order as they appear in the film.
Some parts of the soundtrack are based on the music from James Horner’s soundtrack for Gorky Park, but played with different instruments.
Clear and Present Danger opened strongly at the US box office, grossing $20,348,017 in its first weekend and holding the top spot for two weeks. It went on to gross an estimated $122 million in the US, and $94 million in foreign revenue for a worldwide total of $216 million.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Sound (Donald O. Mitchell, Michael Herbick, Frank A. Montaño and Art Rochester) and Best Sound Effects Editing (John Leveque and Bruce Stambler).
- The drug lord mansion destroyed by the missile was a real brick-and-mortar residence in Mexico purchased by the filmmakers from a divorcée who had unpleasant memories of the place.
- The filmmakers bought the mansion and destroyed it.
- The divorcée kept the land and presumably built a new house after clearing out the rubble.
- The scene in which the convoy of Suburbans is attacked by the drug cartel is now used as a training video in US government agencies.
- The footage was also used in an episode of JAG (1995).
- Ryan’s line asking Ritter if he played tennis (to distract him during the computer showdown) was ad-libbed by Harrison Ford.
- The Oval Office set was originally built for “Dave (1993).”
- Ernesto Escobedo is based upon real-life drug lord Pablo Escobar, who was head of the Medillin cartel in the 1980s.
- Escobar died as the movie went into production.
- Penetrating communications security of the cartel was a central plot in the book as well as the movie.
- However, at the same time the film was in production (1993), the Colombian military unit called Search Bloc, in co-operation with Centra-Spike (the code name for US Army Intelligence Support Activity), was doing the same thing to Pablo Escobar, who was talking to his family members on an unsecure phone and was eventually tracked down and killed in a barefoot, roof top gun battle with the Search Bloc.
- The film originally received an R rating, but won a PG-13 rating on appeal without making any edits.
Jack Ryan Series
You can find a full index and overview of the Jack Ryan Franchise here.
Production & Filming Details
- Phillip Noyce.
- Lis Kern … associate producer.
- Mace Neufeld … producer.
- Robert Rehme … producer.
- Ralph S. Singleton … co-producer.
- Tom Clancy … (novel).
- Donald E. Stewart … (screenplay) (as Donald Stewart).
- Steven Zaillian … (screenplay).
- John Milius … (screenplay).
- James Horner.
- Donald McAlpine.
- Neil Travis.
- Mace Neufeld Productions.
- Paramount Pictures.
- Paramount Pictures (1994) (USA) (theatrical).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Argentina) (theatrical).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Finland) (theatrical).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (France) (theatrical).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Non-US) (theatrical).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Japan) (theatrical).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Norway) (theatrical).
- United International Pictures (UIP) (1994) (Sweden) (theatrical).
- Paramount Home Video (1995) (USA) (video) (laserdisc).
- Paramount Home Video (1996) (USA) (VHS).
- American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (1997) (USA) (TV) (broadcast premiere).
- Paramount Home Video (1998) (USA) (DVD).
- Paramount Films of India (1995) (India) (theatrical).
- Universal Pictures (1994) (Mexico) (theatrical).
- Argentina Video Home (1995) (Argentina) (VHS).
- Argentina Video Home (2002) (Argentina) (DVD).
- Argentina Video Home (2002) (Argentina) (VHS) (re-edited).
- Argentina Video Home (2004) (Argentina) (DVD) (special edition).
- CIC Video (1994) (Germany) (VHS).
- CIC Video (1995) (Finland) (VHS).
- CIC Video (1996) (Greece) (VHS).
- CIC Video (1995) (Norway) (VHS).
- CIC-Taft Home Video (Australia) (VHS).
- Finnkino (2001) (Finland) (DVD).
- Malofilm Home Video (Canada) (VHS) (dubbed).
- Nelonen (1997) (Finland) (TV).
- Paramount Channel (2020) (France) (TV).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2000) (Germany) (DVD).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2012) (Germany) (Blu-ray) (DVD).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2018) (Germany) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2003) (Finland) (DVD).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2006) (Finland) (DVD).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2004) (Netherlands) (DVD).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2003) (Norway) (DVD).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2008) (USA) (DVD) (Blu ray).
- Paramount Home Entertainment (2008) (USA) (Blu-ray) (DVD).
- RTL Entertainment (2016) (Netherlands) (TV) (RTL7).
- VideoVisa (1995) (Mexico) (VHS).
- Release Date: 03 August 1994 (US).
- Running Time: 141 minutes.
- Rating: 12.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.