Clear and Present Danger (film)

Clear and Present Danger is a 1994 American political action-thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce[3] and based on Tom Clancy's 1989 novel of the same name. It was preceded by the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October and the 1992 film Patriot Games, all three featuring Clancy's character Jack Ryan. 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 installment directed by Noyce.

Clear and Present Danger
Clear and Present Danger film.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhillip Noyce
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onClear and Present Danger
by Tom Clancy
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyDonald McAlpine
Edited byNeil Travis
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • August 3, 1994 (1994-08-03)
Running time
141 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$62 million[2]
Box office$215.9 million[2]

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. The film premiered in theaters in the United States on August 3, 1994, and was a major financial success, earning over $200 million at the box office.[2]


The discovery of the murder of an American businessman, Peter Hardin, and his family, outrages U.S. President 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 U.S. 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 U.S. and allow American law enforcement to make regular arrests to make it appear as if the U.S. is winning the drug war. In exchange, Cutter will shut down all U.S. 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.




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 favor of Patriot Games.[4] 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.[5] 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 criticized 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.[6]


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.[7] 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.[6]


Clear and Present Danger - Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by
ReleasedAugust 2, 1994 (original), January 1, 2013 (expanded version)
Length50:35 (original release), 98:38 (expanded version)
LabelMilan Records (original), Intrada Records (expanded version)
Jack Ryan soundtrack chronology
Patriot Games
Clear and Present Danger - Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
The Sum of All Fears

The film's musical score was composed by James Horner. Milan Records released an album featuring selections from the score on August 2, 1994.[8]

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.


Critical responseEdit

The film received positive reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 79% based on reviews from 42 critics. The site's consensus states: "Perfecting the formula established in earlier installments, Clear and Present Danger reunites its predecessor's creative core to solidly entertaining effect."[9] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average out of 100 to critics' reviews, Clear and Present Danger received a score of 74 based on 14 reviews.[10] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[11]

Noyce, who also directed "Patriot Games," manages to keep the complex story lines from snarling even though he relies heavily on crosscutting. The technique, which he uses ingeniously here, enlivens scenes that are technologically driven and potentially deadly.

—Rita Kempley, writing for The Washington Post[12]

Mick LaSalle, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, commented how it "delights in an almost boyish way in the trappings of power: rocket launchers and high-tech missiles, flags, ceremony and political double-speak."[13]James Berardinelli, who wrote for ReelViews, remarked, "Clear and Present Danger is all plot and no characters. The people running around on screen have about as much depth as the sheen of sweat on Harrison Ford's forehead. Jack Ryan is the most disappointing of all. He's disgustingly virtuous: a flawless fighter for good and justice, a Superman without the cape. I spent half the movie wondering if this guy was ever going to show anything to mark him as vaguely human."[14] In Reel Power: Hollywood Cinema and American Supremacy, author Matthew Alford formulated a critique of the film, pointing out that supporting characters like Cutter and Ritter are pointedly squeamish about the use of force. He queried, "Where is this abundance of sensitivity from the US national security apparatus towards the people of Latin America in the real world?". He concluded, "The answers are all too obvious, except to a Hollywood hooked on schmaltz, willfully ignorant of reality and in thrall to power."[15]

Box officeEdit

Clear and Present Danger opened strongly at the U.S. 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 U.S., and $94 million in foreign revenue for a worldwide total of $216 million.[16]

Year-end listsEdit


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 Editing (John Leveque and Bruce Stambler).[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Clear and Present Danger (12)". British Board of Film Classification. August 15, 1994. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Clear and Present Danger (1994)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
  3. ^ "Clear and Present Danger". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  4. ^ "Revisiting Patriot Games: The First Jack Ryan "Reboot"". Den of Geek. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  5. ^ Segaloff, Nat, "John Milius: The Good Fights", Backstory 4: Interviews with Screenwriters of the 1970s and 1980s, Ed. Patrick McGilligan, Uni of California 2006 p 310
  6. ^ a b "Harrison Ford takes on Tom Clancy...again". Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  7. ^ "Cool Movie Sets: 'Clear and Present Danger'". Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  8. ^ "Clear and Present Danger - Audio CD". Retrieved February 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Clear and Present Danger". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  10. ^ "Clear and Present Danger". Metacritic. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  11. ^ "CinemaScore".
  12. ^ Kempley, Rita (August 3, 1994). "Clear and Present Danger". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  13. ^ LaSalle, Mick (February 3, 1995). "Ford Vs. the Cynics in 'Danger'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  14. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Clear and Present Danger". ReelViews. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  15. ^ Alford, Reel Power, p. 91
  16. ^ "Clear and Present Danger". Retrieved February 14, 2019.
  17. ^ Turan, Kenneth (December 25, 1994). "1994: YEAR IN REVIEW : No Weddings, No Lions, No Gumps". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 20, 2020.
  18. ^ Lovell, Glenn (December 25, 1994). "The Past Picture Show the Good, the Bad and the Ugly -- a Year Worth's of Movie Memories". San Jose Mercury News (Morning Final ed.). p. 3.
  19. ^ Hurley, John (December 30, 1994). "Movie Industry Hit Highs and Lows in '94". Staten Island Advance. p. D11.
  20. ^ Elliott, David (December 25, 1994). "On the big screen, color it a satisfying time". The San Diego Union-Tribune (1, 2 ed.). p. E=8.
  21. ^ Mills, Michael (December 30, 1994). "It's a Fact: 'Pulp Fiction' Year's Best". The Palm Beach Post (Final ed.). p. 7.
  22. ^ Craft, Dan (December 30, 1994). "Success, Failure and a Lot of In-between; Movies '94". The Pantagraph. p. B1.
  23. ^ Carlton, Bob (December 29, 1994). "It Was a Good Year at Movies". The Birmingham News. p. 12-01.
  24. ^ "The 67th Academy Awards (1995) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved October 23, 2011.

External linksEdit