Clear and Present Danger (1994)

Film and Plot Synopsis

“Clear and Present Danger” is a thrilling political action film directed by Phillip Noyce, released in 1994. It is based on Tom Clancy’s novel of the same name and is part of the popular Jack Ryan film series. The movie stars Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst who finds himself thrust into the center of a dangerous covert operation involving drug cartels, political intrigue, and international espionage.

‘Clear and Present Danger’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Clear and Present Danger (1994)The plot begins with the murder of a close friend of the President of the United States Edward Bennett (Donald Moffat), Peter Hardin. Hardin, along with his family, are killed by drug smugglers while on their yacht at sea. CIA Analyst Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) learns through his investigation that Hardin was laundering money for the South American Cali Cartel led by drug lord Ernesto Escobedo (Miguel Sandoval). Escobedo ordered Hardin’s death due to the American embezzling millions in drug profits. President Bennett authorizes National Security Advisor James Cutter (Harris Yulin) to conduct a secret war against the drug cartels in Columbia. Cutter tasks CIA Deputy Director of Operations Robert Ritter (Henry Czerny), in writing, to place United States military troops on the ground in Columbia to take out drug cartel assets. The secret militia is codenamed RECIPROCITY and placed under the command of former special operations officer John Clark (Willem Dafoe).

At the same time, Jack’s mentor and good friend, Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones), undergoes treatment for pancreatic cancer. Jack is temporarily appointed as acting CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence while Greer receives treatment. As part of his responsibilities, Jack appears before Congress and requests funding to support Columbians fighting the drug cartel and promises that no U.S. military personnel will be involved in the war on drugs. Ritter uses the money to fund RECIPROCITY without Jack’s knowledge. RECIPROCITY is successful in taking out several valuable targets in the cartel, and Escobedo orders his intelligence officer, Colonel Félix Cortez (Joaquim de Almeida), to learn who is attacking his organization.

Not long after, President Bennett orders Jack and FBI Director Emile Jacobs (Tom Tammi) to travel to Columbia to negotiate with the Colombian government over the ownership of over $650 million of Escobedo’s money that was seized in offshore accounts. Jack’s friend Dan Murray (Tim Grimm) also travels to Columbia as part of the security detail. Cortez learns of the secret visit through Jacobs’ secretary, Moira Wolfson (Ann Magnuson), a woman that Cortez has been having a secret affair with in order to gather intelligence. Cortez orders an ambush on the streets of Columbia of Jack’s convoy to place Escobedo and the United States at odds with each other. Everyone but Jack is killed during the attack.

You want to know about politics in Washington? Four words. Watch your back, Jack. Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones)

President Bennett is furious over the loss of his FBI Director and orders Cutter to increase the operations against the cartels. Escobedo, blamed for the attack, organizes a meeting with the other cartel leaders to discover who is to blame. RECIPROCITY learns of the meeting and organizes an air strike on the hacienda where the meeting is to take place. Escobedo and Cortez, late to meeting, barely escape being killed in the air strike while the rest of the various cartel members are killed. Cortez conducts his own investigations into the attack and learns that U.S. miliary forces are responsible. Cortez secretly contacts Cutter and organizes a deal. Cortez will kill Escobedo to assume leadership of the cartel. Additionally, Cortez agrees to reduce drug shipments to the U.S. and allow American law enforcement to make regular arrests to influence public opinion that the United States is winning the drug war. In exchange, Cortez wants the location of RECIPROCITY and all CIA support personnel to eliminate them and cement his position within the cartel. Cutter accepts Cortez’s deal, then strands Clark’s team, who are overwhelmed by Cortez’s mercenaries in the jungle.

At the same time, Jack learns of RECIPROCITY and Ritter’s involvement with the use of military forces in Columbia. He confronts Ritter who informs Jack that he too is also on the hook for the operation since he asked for funding from Congress. Ritter himself is protected from prosecution as he has written authorization for the operation from Cutter. Almost immediately afterwards, Jack learns that Greer has passed away from his fight with cancer. After talking with his wife Cathy (Anne Archer), Jack decides to travel to Bogota to find Clark and assist him with rescuing his men. Before Jack arrives, Cutter contacts Clark and misinforms him that RECIPROCITY has been deactivated due to Jack’s involvement and implies if Jack is killed that everything will be restored. Clark kidnaps Jack at the airport and feigns killing him. When Cutter and Ritter fail to reactive RECIPROCITY, Clark knows that they are lying to him.

Jack and Clark begin working together to save the surviving captured soldiers. Jack’s purchases a helicopter using CIA funds to help facilitate the rescue. They discover one soldier who evaded capture, sniper Domingo Chavez (Raymond Cruz), who informs them that the surviving soldiers were taken to Cortez’s compound. Jack decides to meet with Escobedo directly and informs him of Cortez’s deception. At the same time, Clark works to free the surviving military personnel from a coffee facility fronting Escobedo’s cocaine operation. Escobedo confronts Cortez, but he is killed by one of Cortez’s men. Jack narrowly escapes being killed himself and rushes to the helicopter pursued by Cortez. Before Cortez can kill Jack, Chavez shoots the drug dealer. Jack and Clark escape with all the surviving military men.

Once back in the United States, Jack is summoned to White House where President Bennett attempts to feign ignorance of the entire operation. Knowing the depth of the President’s involvement, Jack confronts Bennett as to his responsibility and informs him that he will inform Congress of the operation. The film ends with Jack being sworn in before Congress to report the wrongdoing of President Bennett and his staff.

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Paramount Pictures released Clear and Present Danger on August 3, 1994. Phillip Noyce directed the film starring Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, and Anne Archer.

User Rating: 3.57 ( 3 votes)
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