Patriot Games (1992)
Jesus, I went to write this and found out he died yesterday…
RIP Tom Clancy
I’ve now seen all of the Jack Ryan movies… Let me rephrase that, all of the John Patrick “Jack” Ryan movies. Seriously? 4 first names in this guy’s name? And don’t think they don’t have people refer to him by John, Jack and Ryan at different points during all of the movies, seriously confusing. And I’ve watched them all completely out of order so nothing made any sense until I realized they were out of order. And did you know that Tom Clancy disowned this movie because it was nothing like his book? And that Paramount still had the rights to Clear and Present Danger which they obviously went ahead and made with Harrison Ford. And this series is also looking to get a reboot this year (again).
So the movies are a mess but there are 2 things you should take away from this movie.
#1 Literally at the dawn of the new world after the Cold War, they opted for IRA terrorists as the Other for filling the villain vacuum. Fairly prescient to look to terrorism as a valid antagonist for future movie audiences. There are still state-to-state movies even now but a legitimate place was being made for the threat of non-state actors.
#2 Ryan has assumed a personal moral authority due to the attacks on his family which translates into surveillance, arrests, a night assault and bombing of a training camp and the executions of an IRA hit squad. Bear with me here. First phase of spy movies are wartime heroics with implicit moral authority from a state of war, then comes professional intelligence agency spy movies with implied moral authority from “democratic” governments and then after mid-1970’s revelations there must be a change in where the authority to do the things you see in the movies comes from. All of a sudden the audience must be catered to, even if only barely, in order for them to agree that the Hero is allowed to aggressively engage the Enemy. There are ages old debates about what a hero is and what a villain is but I’m holding out on the idea that moral authority is a behind the scenes influence on the periods of “spy” movies and shaping influence on the storylines.