This follow-up to The Hunt for Red October (1990) sees Harrison Ford taking over the character created by Alec Baldwin.
Ex-CIA analyst Jack Ryan is now a lecturer at the Naval Academy, devoted to his wife, Cathy (Anne Archer) and standard-Hollywood-issue adorable but precocious daughter, Sally (Thora Birch).
In London for a conference, he foils an IRA attempt on the life of a Royal cousin (played gawkishly by James Fox as a caricatured amalgam of all Royal cousins of the male line). The cousin, Lord Holmes, is very grateful and gives him a Sir-ship (the knighting ceremony takes place in his own living room!).
But the IRA man (Sean Bean), whose brother was killed in the fracas, now has it in for him.
Pursuing Ryan across the Atlantic (via the Libyan desert), he resorts to mean tactics. Cathy and Sally are threatened, and Ryan becomes the acceptable face of violence and irresistible manipulator of heartstrings as protector of his family.
Though proficient in maintaining tension and excitement, and graced – if grimly – by strong acting from Harrison and Bean, more might have been expected in the way of integrity from Australian Phillip Noyce, who began his directorial career in the 1970s with Newsfront (1978).
The most startling and fascinating images are blurred ones via satellite of the taking out of a terrorist training camp in the African desert – an operation that Ryan watches cold-bloodedly from the bunker at CIA HQ in Virginia. The general tone of the film is that this is the approved temperature.
The ins and outs of Irish politics (or anyone’s) are naturally ignored to serve the time-honoured formula of good guys vs. bad guys.
That the good guy is the CIA and the CIA version of killing is even more impressive than the IRA’s just goes to show: Glamour, nothing else, is the aim of the game.
Committed, loving family man Jack Ryan throws himself into shoot-outs, hand to hand combat, car chases and a storm-tossed speedboat finale – all the time dressed in a suit and tie.
It’s a thrilling movie, but if you stopped to think about anything in the film, your IQ would fall out of your ear.
Based on a novel by Tom Clancy (as was Red October).
Samuel L. Jackson
James Earl Jones
Shaun Duke (as Duke Moosekian)
FBI Agent Shaw