Patriot Games (1992)


Patriot Games is a 1992 American action thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Tom Clancy’s 1987 novel of the same name.

The film is a sequel to the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, but with different actors in the leading roles, Harrison Ford starring as Jack Ryan and Anne Archer as his wife. James Earl Jones reprises his role as Admiral James Greer. The cast also includes Sean Bean, Patrick Bergin, Thora Birch, Samuel L. Jackson, James Fox, and Richard Harris.

Part of the Jack Ryan Franchise.


Retired CIA analyst Jack Ryan is on vacation with his family in London. Ryan and his family witness an assassination attempt on Lord William Holmes, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, only for Ryan to intervene. Injured in the attack, Ryan kills two of the assailants, one being 16-year-old Patrick Miller, while his older brother Sean looks on. The remaining attackers flee as Sean is apprehended by the police. While recovering, Ryan is called to testify in court against Miller, who is part of a splinter cell of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Miller is convicted for his crimes and swears revenge against Ryan.

The leader of the splinter cell, Kevin O’Donnell, meets with IRA brigade commander Jimmy O’Reardon, who tricks O’Donnell into going into an ambush so he can be assassinated by hitmen. O’Donnell turns the tables on his attackers and kills them all while O’Donnell’s lover, Annette, assassinates O’Reardon. While being transferred to HM Prison Albany on the Isle of Wight, Miller’s escort convoy is ambushed by his comrades, including O’Donnell, who execute the police officers and coordinate an escape. Miller and his companions flee to North Africa to plan another kidnapping attempt on Lord Holmes. Miller persuades several members of the group to accompany him to the United States, where he plans to eliminate Ryan and his family.

Annette and fellow terrorist Ned Clark attempt to assassinate Ryan outside the United States Naval Academy, but Ryan notices Clark following him. Clark overwhelms Ryan, only to be shot by a Marine guard. Miller and a henchman attack Ryan’s pregnant wife Cathy and their daughter Sally on a busy highway, injuring them both. Enraged over the attack on his family, Ryan decides to go back to work for the CIA, having earlier rejected the appeal of his former superior, Vice Admiral James Greer.

Ryan’s analysis leads him to conclude that Miller has taken refuge in a training camp in North Africa. A Special Air Service team kills everyone in the camp while Ryan looks on through a live satellite feed. Unbeknownst to Ryan, Miller and his companions have left the camp and are on their way to the US to stage their next attack.

Lord Holmes decides to visit Ryan at his home to present his honorary knighthood in recognition of his role in foiling the first attack on Holmes. With the aid of Holmes’ traitorous assistant, Miller’s group tracks Holmes to Ryan’s coast-side home in Maryland. The team kill the DSS agents and state troopers guarding the residence, with two of the terrorists being killed during the attack and tries to abduct Lord Holmes. Ryan leads Holmes and his family to safety.

The FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team scrambles to pick up Holmes. Ryan tricks the terrorists to leave his family and Lord Holmes behind, near the shoreline, while racing away from the coast on a boat. Miller, O’Donnell and Annette follow suit, and chase him in a secondary boat. Upon realising that Ryan is leading them away from Holmes, O’Donnell and Annette try to persuade him to turn around, but an enraged Miller kills them both and continues his pursuit of Ryan. Miller reaches Ryan’s boat, jumps aboard, and attacks Ryan. During their fight, Ryan impales Miller on an anchor, killing him. Ryan jumps clear of the boat before it crashes into several rocks, and is rescued by an FBI helicopter.

Sometime later, Cathy is called by her obstetrician; giving her the baby’s latest test results.


  • Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan.
  • Anne Archer as Cathy Ryan.
  • Patrick Bergin as Kevin O’Donnell.
  • Sean Bean as Sean Miller.
  • Thora Birch as Sally Ryan.
  • James Fox as Lord William Holmes.
  • Ellen Geer as Rose.
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Lieutenant Commander Robby Jackson.
  • Polly Walker as Annette.
  • J. E. Freeman as Marty Cantor.
  • James Earl Jones as Admiral James Greer.
  • Richard Harris as Paddy O’Neil.
  • Alex Norton as Dennis Cooley.
  • Hugh Fraser as Geoffrey Watkins.
  • Alun Armstrong as Sergeant Owens.
  • David Threlfall as Inspector Robert Highland.
  • Andrew Connolly as Charlie Dugan.
  • Jonathan Ryan as Jimmy O’Reardon.
  • Ted Raimi as CIA Technician.
  • Bob Gunton as Interviewer.


Development and Casting

Viacom tried to option the rights for an ABC television adaptation of Patriot Games after the release of the novel in 1987. However, Tom Clancy got into a legal dispute over whether he had retained the character in his deal for the US Naval Institute to publish the previous novel in the series The Hunt for Red October. In 1988, during the pre-production of the film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October, Paramount Pictures issued another lawsuit claiming that it had purchased the rights to the character of Jack Ryan with its $455,000 contract to adapt The Hunt for Red October and that the ABC adaptation could not move forward. Although Tom Clancy’s attorney Robert Yodelman disputed Paramount’s claim to full character rights, the lawsuit led to the project’s cancellation.

The actors who played Jack and Caroline Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, Alec Baldwin and Gates McFadden, did not appear in the film. Baldwin was in negotiations to reprise his role, but committed to perform in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway after filming on Patriot Games was delayed by two months. In 2011, Baldwin claimed the role was recast due to David Kirkpatrick forcing him to choose between performing in A Streetcar Named Desire or agreeing to an open-ended clause relating to dates for the first sequel. Baldwin further claimed this occurred after a famous actor, widely believed to be the film’s eventual star Harrison Ford, offered to play Ryan. Ford was favoured by both the studio and the director John McTiernan due to a large debt the studio owed to him from Harold Becker’s unproduced historical film Night Ride Down, a film about the Pullman strike which was cancelled due to the early 1990’s recession. McTiernan had originally desired Ford in the role in the first film and confirmed that “there was a great deal of scheming that went on to push Alec out of that part.” Kirkpatrick responded to Baldwin’s claims by saying that negotiations with him to reprise the role had already broken due to his insistence on script approval. Ford signed a three-picture contract to play Ryan after Baldwin’s departure.

McTiernan initially wanted to follow The Hunt for Red October by directing an adaptation of Clear and Present Danger using a script written by John Milius. After the studio opted to adapt Patriot Games, he declined to direct because of his Irish-American background. Walter Hill, Kevin Reynolds, and John Badham were considered to replace McTiernan. Badham was almost hired but asked for too high of a fee, and Phillip Noyce was chosen instead. Donald Stewart returned from the first film to co-write the script with W. Peter Iliff.

In the original novel, the assassination attempt was made on the Prince of Wales and many members of the British royal family appeared as important characters. As a result, they were replaced with fictitious characters in the screenplay, with Prince Charles being replaced by Lord Holmes, a non-existent cousin of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.


Shooting began on 02 November 1991. The budget was initially $28 million, but was raised to $40 million by Brandon Tartikoff. The movie was filmed on location in areas around London, at Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and at Pinewood Studios. Scenes were also filmed at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Jack Ryan’s home was filmed on the California coast and made to look like it was in Maryland.

The scenes set at a terrorist camp in Libya were filmed in the desert near Brawley, California. To make the attack on the camp appear as infrared footage, actors wearing black body suits were filmed from a helicopter and the resulting video images were reversed in post-production.

Patriot Games was the first movie to be allowed to film at the George Bush Centre for Intelligence, CIA Headquarters.

Filming also took place at Aldwych underground station for a sequence later in the film. Harrison Ford accidentally hit Sean Bean with a boat hook while shooting the final scene; Bean has a scar over his eye as a result.

Test audiences in April 1992 responded negatively to the original ending, which had Jack Ryan and Sean Miller fighting underwater. The ending was re-shot with a more explosive finale. The reshoots and marketing caused the film’s budget to expand to $65 million.

The numerous changes between the film and the novel caused Clancy to distance himself from the film production. Clancy was unhappy with the script and during production asked for his name to be taken off the film. He complained that the final attack scene was “unrealistic” and that he had not been shown any rushes. He said he was not sure a film would be made of Clear and Present Danger “because I think Patriot Games will turn out so bad.” However, Tartikoff later met Clancy to show him a rough cut of the film, and assuaged his concerns enough to guarantee that he would work with the studio again.


On 09 June 1992, the original motion picture soundtrack was released by the RCA Records music label. The film’s musical score was composed by James Horner and contains musical references to works by Aram Khachaturian (Adagio from “Gayane” Suite) and Dmitri Shostakovich (Symphony No. 5, 3rd mvt.). A music video is shown in an early scene featuring Clannad’s song “Theme from Harry’s Game”, originally made for an ITV drama about The Troubles in 1982. All other vocal performances featured on the soundtrack were performed by Maggie Boyle.

In 2013, a 2-disc expanded soundtrack album was released by La-La Land Records. Limited to 3000 copies, the album contains over 50 minutes of previously unreleased music (including cues by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and John Philip Sousa).


Box Office

The film was a financial success, debuting at the number one position for the weekend of 05 June 1992. During that weekend, the film grossed $18,511,191 in business showing at 2,365 locations. The film’s revenue dropped by 39.5% in its second week of release, earning $11,208,134. For that particular weekend, the film remained in 1st place with an increased theatre count of 2,396. Patriot Games went on to top out domestically at $83,351,587 in ticket sales and $94,700,000 in foreign business for a worldwide total of $178,051,587 through an initial 9-week theatrical run. For 1992 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 14.


  • The attack on members of the Royal Family at the beginning of the film was inspired by a similar true-life attempt to kidnap Princess Anne on 20 March 1974.
    • She was in her car when a man shot her guard and driver.
    • She was subsequently helped by a passerby who attacked the criminal and saved her.
  • The line “There’s never been a terrorist attack on American soil” was included in trailers for the movie.
    • However, it was left out of theatrical release because it sounded too much like an invitation or dare.
  • Tom Watt claims that he got his part because it amused director Phillip Noyce that an actor named “Watt” was auditioning for the role of an electrician.
  • The servo sound used when zooming in and out of photos is actually that of the moving head of a floppy disk drive.
  • Near the beginning of the film, as Ryan and his wife are kissing in their hotel bed, she reminds him that he is supposed to be working on his speech for the Royal Military Academy.
    • Ryan replies that he will “wing it”. The next day at the Academy, as he is making his speech, a very brief shot of Ryan’s notebook shows a blank page, indicating that he is, in fact, winging it.
  • Early in the film, when Ryan gives a lecture at the Royal Naval Academy in London, he tells the audience “In this volatile climate, we can only speculate on the future of Soviet Fleet development.”
    • In the foreground, a blueprint of the Soviet submarine “Red October” appears on a computer screen, establishing Ryan’s link to The Hunt for Red October (1990).

Jack Ryan Series

You can find a full index and overview of the Jack Ryan Franchise here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Phillip Noyce.
  • Producer(s):
    • Lis Kern … associate producer.
    • Charles H. Maguire … executive producer.
    • Mace Neufeld … producer.
    • Robert Rehme … producer.
  • Writer(s):
    • Tom Clancy … (novel).
    • W. Peter Iliff … (screenplay).
    • Donald E. Stewart … (screenplay) (as Donald Stewart).
  • Music:
    • James Horner.
  • Cinematography:
    • Donald McAlpine.
  • Editor(s):
    • William Noy.
    • Neil Travis.
  • Production:
    • Mace Neufeld Productions.
    • Paramount Pictures.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Paramount Pictures (1992) (USA) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Films of India (1993) (India) (theatrical).
    • Paramount Pictures (1992) (Mexico) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1992) (Germany) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1992) (Finland) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1992) (France) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1992) (Japan) (theatrical).
    • United International Pictures (UIP) (1992) (Netherlands) (theatrical).
    • Algemene Vereniging Radio Omroep (AVRO) (1996) (Netherlands) (TV).
    • American Broadcasting Company (ABC) (1995) (USA) (TV) (broadcast premiere).
    • Argentina Video Home (Argentina) (VHS).
    • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (1995) (UK) (TV) (BBC1).
    • CIC Video (1993) (Germany) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1993) (Finland) (VHS).
    • CIC Video (1993) (Norway) (VHS).
    • CIC-Taft Home Video (1990) (Australia) (VHS).
    • Finnkino (2001) (Finland) (DVD).
    • Hero (2018) (Finland) (TV).
    • Malofilm Home Video (1992) (Canada) (VHS).
    • Nelonen (2000) (Finland) (TV).
    • Paramount Channel (2020) (France) (TV).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment Finland (2003) (Finland) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment Finland (2011) (Finland) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2000) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2012) (Germany) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2018) (Germany) (all media) (Ultra HD Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2003) (Netherlands) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2003) (Norway) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Entertainment (2008) (USA) (Blu-ray).
    • Paramount Home Video (2003) (Mexico) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Video (1996) (USA) (VHS).
    • Paramount Home Video (1998) (USA) (DVD).
    • Paramount Home Video (USA) (video) (laserdisc).
    • Philips (USA) (video) (CD-i).
    • VideoVisa (1993) (Mexico) (VHS).
    • Yleisradio (YLE) (1996) (Finland) (TV).
  • Release Date: 05 June 1992 (US and Canada).
  • Running Time: 117 minutes.
  • Rating: 15.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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