THE JACK RYAN COLLECTION (Paramount)
The Hunt For Red October (1990) D: John McTiernan, w/ Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery. Rating: NNN; Blu-ray package: NNNN
Patriot Games (1992) D: Phillip Noyce, w/ Harrison Ford, Sean Bean. Rating: NNN; Blu-ray package: NNN
Clear And Present Danger (1994) D: Phillip Noyce, w/ Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe. Rating: NNNN; Blu-ray package: NNN
The Sum Of All Fears (2002) D: Phil Alden Robinson, w/ Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman. Rating: NNNN; Blu-ray package: NNNN
In the wake of the Snowden leaks and drone-strike scandals, it's a little tough to choke down movies that feature the CIA as global good guys. If you can get past that and the tendency of yesterday's high tech to look like today's stone axes, the Jack Ryan thrillers offer solid A-picture entertainment.
Ryan is a CIA analyst, an academic who keeps getting thrown by circumstance into peril and a desperate race to avert some disaster or other. All the movies are well plotted and tense, but Clear And Present Danger stands out as the only one that delves into spying's inherent moral darkness.
Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck each give Ryan a different twist but always make him thoughtful and likeable. There's more fun in the supporting roles, including sharply etched portraits by James Earl Jones, James Cromwell, Willem Dafoe and Scott Glenn among others.
A pair of commentaries highlight the solid extras sets. John McTiernan focuses on his flaws and failings in Red October, a rarity on director commentaries. On The Sum Of All Fears, source novel author Tom Clancy, who recently died, puts his energy into comparing the movie with real life.
Ryan gets another kick at the can when Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit hits theatres January 17 with Chris Pine and Keira Knightley in the leads.
EXTRAS (all titles): Making-of docs. English, French, Spanish audio. English French, Spanish, Portuguese subtitles. HFRO: director commentary. SOAF: director and cameraman commentary, director and Clancy commentary, visual effects docs.