The Jack Ryan Collection 4K review by Bobby Blakey
Over the years there have been numerous actors taking on the mantle of Jack Ryan including Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin, Ben Affleck and Chris Pine. Like them or not, each has brought their own special something to the role and with the upcoming Jack Ryan Amazon TV series getting ready to premiere what better time to revisit all of the previous films featuring the famed Tom Clancy character with The Jack Ryan Collection.
The first of the films was 1990s The Hunt for Red October starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin and follows the USSR's best captain who heads for the U.S. in a technologically advanced submarine. While the American government thinks it’s an attack, a lone CIA analyst insists the captain is planning to defect. In addition to Connery and Baldwin this first Ryan outing also stars Sam Neil, Tim Curry, Scott Glenn, and James Earl Jones. I was never a big fan of this film, but revisiting it I found it a lot more enjoyable than I had remembered. It isn’t overly exciting for the majority of the film like some of the other entries, but still keeps you engaged with the back and forth and conspiracy of it all. What this film did do is remind me how much I miss seeing the always brilliant Sean Connery on the big screen. He fully embodies this role and you believe he is both Russian and fully invested in his mission. Baldwin is fine in the role, but this clearly more of Connery’s show with Ryan almost a secondary character. There is some interesting sub action at the end of the movie that is a bit dated, but still works well enough to bring it all home. Both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs include commentary by director John McTiernan and the Blu-ray additionally includes a 29-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film.
In the next chapter of the Jack Ryan series Harrison Ford took over the role with 1992s Patriot Games costarring Anne Archer, James Earl Jones, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Bergen and Sean Bean. The film follows the CIA analyst thwarting an IRA assassination only to make himself and his family targets of a renegade faction. This was one of my favorite chapters of the Ryan franchise not only because of the addition of Ford taking over the role, but the overall tone of the film as well. This entry took a more action approach with Ford getting to deliver his every man action star persona that always give everything a more believable feel and with the always great Sean Bean in the insane role of the villain made for a great game of cat and mouse. The story is just compelling enough to keep you interested without trying to get too convoluted like a lot of these kinds of movies do and made for a great new direction for the franchise. The additional Blu-ray with this set not only includes the film, but also a 25-minute exploration of the film.
Harrison Ford returned for 1994s Clear and Present Danger as Jack Ryan, who becomes embroiled in an illegal war fought by the U.S. government against a Colombian drug cartel. Once again Ford brings his everyman persona to the role making for a believable character. Bringing in Willem Dafoe always makes this better as he just oozes a dark charisma with a smile that caps it off to perfection. This time around the action doesn’t come along as often as in his
previous outing, but stands out with the expertly executed caravan raid. Outside of the caravan sequence most of the action takes place at the end of the film and while good fails to live up to that awesome sequence. The most fun for me is always watching Ford’s fight sequences as they are always more believable and realistic than what Hollywood normally offers. There are all the twists and turns that you hope for in these kinds of films right up until the very end. The ending with Ryan facing off against the President in the Oval office is one of my favorite in the franchise mostly thanks to Ford’s performance and intensity in his delivery. The additional Blu-ray with this set not only includes the film, but also a 29-minute behind-the-scenes feature.
After years of no movement on the franchise, Ben Affleck took on the role of Jack Ryan in 2002s The Sum of All Fears. In this thrilling chapter, Ryan must stop a terrorist plan to provoke a war between the U.S. and Russia. In my opinion this is the weakest of the Ryan films but mostly due to how uneven it is. Affleck does a decent enough job with the young take on the character, but they never really make him burst out of his shell to be more than just the analyst. I’m not saying I needed him to kick some major butt or anything, but when you follow Ford who is right in on the action it is kind of hard to go backwards. The story itself is pretty much what you would expect from the franchise, but doesn’t pack the punch the others did. I will say the end sequence with Ryan communicating with the Russians via a hacked signal is pretty great, but that is about all that really stood out for me. With that being said it is still an interesting take on the character that could have been so much better with a better execution. In addition to the film, both the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs include commentary by director Phil Alden Robinson and cinematographer John Lindley, as well as a second commentary by the director and novelist Tom Clancy. The additional Blu-ray with this set also includes a two-part making-of feature and a five-part exploration of the visual effects.
In the feature adaptation of the character, the origin of Jack Ryan was explored in 2014s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, with Chris Pine taking on the lead role. As a young covert CIA analyst, Ryan uncovers a Russian terrorist plot to crash the U.S. economy. When they originally debuted, the trailers were pretty hit and miss, but this film actually ended up being pretty good. This film does an excellent job rebooting the character and giving him more of an origin story all without wasting much time to get to the point. This film moves pretty fast with little wasted time, but some may want more character development between Pine and Knightly for their relationship, but in reality she is the weakest part of the film. Pine does a good job with the character and the added mix of Costner as his mentor just stepped up his game. Costner is better than ever in this role and they have great chemistry together. The story is a bit clichéd on a lot of levels, but still works well to keep you invested and entertained. If there is any real issue it comes in the action sequences. They are well done and high energy edge of your seat fun, but they are shot with the shaky came and way to close at times and makes it hard to see what is going on, but not so much that it hurts the overall film. This new 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray Discs include commentary by director/actor Kenneth Branagh and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. The Blu-ray also includes multiple featurettes exploring the Jack Ryan character and his enemies, as well as deleted and extended scenes.
These new 4K Ultra transfers look great bringing the original look to the films back as if seeing them in the theaters when they were first released. With the new show getting ready to hit on Amazon this is the perfect set for fans of the franchise. Join the fight for to save the nation with The Jack Ryan Collection available now on 4K Ultra/ Blu-ray Combo from Paramount Home Entertainment.