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Patriot Games (film)

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Patriot Games
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhillip Noyce
Screenplay by
Based onPatriot Games
by Tom Clancy
Produced by
CinematographyDonald McAlpine
Edited by
Music byJames Horner
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 5, 1992 (1992-06-05) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$45 million
Box office$178.1 million

Patriot Games is a 1992 American action thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Tom Clancy's 1987 novel of the same name. It is a sequel to the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, part of a series of films featuring Clancy's character Jack Ryan, but with different actors in the leading roles. Harrison Ford stars as Jack Ryan and Anne Archer as his wife, and James Earl Jones reprises his role as Admiral James Greer. The cast also includes Sean Bean, Patrick Bergin, Thora Birch, Samuel L. Jackson, James Fox, and Richard Harris.

During production, Clancy repeatedly voiced his displeasure with his understanding of the script, in particular details of technical items to be shown onscreen and the 49-year-old Ford conflicting with his vision of Jack Ryan's age, but publicly stated his satisfaction once he actually saw a cut of the film a few weeks before it was released.

The film premiered in theaters in the United States on June 5, 1992, and spent two weeks as the No. 1 film, grossing $178.1 million worldwide at the box office. It received a generally positive reception from critics. It was followed by Clear and Present Danger (1994), with Ford, Archer, Jones and Birch reprising their roles.


Former CIA analyst Jack Ryan now teaches history at the United States Naval Academy. In London with his physician wife Cathy and their young daughter Sally, Ryan witnesses and intervenes in a terrorist kidnapping attempt on Lord William Holmes, the British Minister of State for Northern Ireland and a cousin to the Queen. Ryan is wounded but disarms one terrorist and fatally shoots two others, then subdues Sean Miller. Among those killed is Miller's younger brother. All belong to a radical IRA splinter cell led by Kevin O'Donnell. Shortly after the incident, IRA operatives attempt and fail to assassinate O'Donnell, considering him and his followers too radical.

Miller is tried and convicted. As he is being transported to prison, O'Donnell and his comrades ambush the police convoy, killing the guards and freeing Miller. Fleeing to North Africa, O'Donnell plans the next attempt on Lord Holmes. Miller vows to avenge his brother's death, and O'Donnell allows him, O'Donnell's lover, Annette, and several others to travel to the US to assassinate Ryan. Meanwhile, British police have determined that an informant has been tipping off the terrorists and are surveilling a book shop owner who is an IRA operative.

Back in the United States, Ryan is informed about Miller's escape. Soon after, he narrowly survives an assassination attempt by Miller's accomplices, while Miller simultaneously targets Cathy while she drives home to Annapolis on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, causing her car to crash into a highway divider, seriously injuring Sally, who has to have her spleen removed. Ryan's former CIA superior, Vice Admiral James Greer, asks Ryan to rejoin the agency to help capture the terrorists. While investigating, Ryan recalls glimpsing a red-headed woman during the attacks on him and Lord Holmes. Ryan approaches Sinn Fein representative Paddy O'Neil for information. O'Neil denies IRA involvement and denounces the attacks, but refuses to betray any fellow Irishmen. Ryan threatens to sabotage O'Neil's American fundraising efforts by showing images of his hospitalized daughter to the media. O'Neil eventually relents and identifies the red-haired female accomplice as an Englishwoman (Annette). Finding her will lead to Miller. Satellite analysis indicates that Miller and O'Donnell are at a terrorist training camp in Libya. The Special Air Service raid the camp, killing everyone, though Miller, O'Donnell, and their cohorts have already fled to North America to coincide with Lord Holmes's visit there.

While Lord Holmes is at the Ryan residence to present Ryan's KCVO medal, a severe thunderstorm apparently knocks out the house's power. Ryan notices the boat-house lights are still on, and he is unable to radio any DSS agents or state troopers guarding the premises. He deduces the house's power was deliberately cut and fears an imminent attack. Ryan realizes that Holmes's assistant, Watkins, is the informant and forces him to reveal information. Outside, O'Donnell, Miller, and their team have killed all security personnel, then infiltrate the house. After Ryan and his Naval Academy associate, Lt. Commander Robby Jackson, eliminate several terrorists, Ryan lures O'Donnell, Miller, and Annette into pursuing him on open water in their waiting speed boats. Upon realizing it is a ruse, O'Donnell demands they return and complete their mission to abduct and ransom Holmes. Miller, crazed with revenge against Ryan, refuses, then fatally shoots O'Donnell and Annette. He leaps aboard Ryan's boat where a struggle ensues; Ryan kills Miller and jumps overboard just before the burning boat crashes into jutting rocks and explodes. An FBI Hostage Rescue Team arrives, rescuing Ryan.

In the final scene, the family is eating breakfast when Cathy's doctor calls saying the yet-to-be born baby is healthy, but the credits roll before the audience knows whether it's a boy or girl.



Development and casting[edit]

Viacom tried to option the rights for an ABC television adaptation of Patriot Games after the release of the novel in 1987. However, Tom Clancy got into a legal dispute over whether he had retained the character in his deal for the U.S. Naval Institute to publish the previous novel in the series The Hunt for Red October.[2] In 1988, during the pre-production of the film adaptation of The Hunt for Red October, Paramount Pictures issued another lawsuit claiming that it had purchased the rights to the character of Jack Ryan with its $455,000 contract to adapt The Hunt for Red October and that the ABC adaptation could not move forward. Although Tom Clancy's attorney Robert Yodelman disputed Paramount's claim to full character rights, the lawsuit led to the project's cancellation.[3] After the release of The Hunt for Red October, Paramount Pictures paid $2.5 million for the rights to Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.[4]

The actors who played Jack and Caroline Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, Alec Baldwin and Gates McFadden, did not appear in the film. Baldwin was in negotiations to reprise his role, but committed to perform in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway after filming on Patriot Games was delayed by two months.[5][6] In 2011, Baldwin claimed the role was recast due to David Kirkpatrick forcing him to choose between performing in A Streetcar Named Desire or agreeing to an open-ended clause relating to dates for the first sequel.[7] Baldwin further claimed this occurred after a famous actor, widely believed to be the film's eventual star Harrison Ford, offered to play Ryan. Ford was favored by both the studio and the director John McTiernan due to a large debt the studio owed to him from Harold Becker's unproduced historical film Night Ride Down, a film set around a labor union strike in the 1930s, which was cancelled due to the early 1990s recession, and script changes Ford disagreed with.[a] McTiernan had originally desired Ford in the role in the first film and confirmed that "there was a great deal of scheming that went on to push Alec out of that part."[14] Kirkpatrick responded to Baldwin's claims by saying that negotiations with him to reprise the role had already broken due to his insistence on script approval.[10] Ford signed a $9 million three-picture contract to play Ryan after Baldwin's departure.[4][5][12]

McTiernan initially wanted to follow The Hunt for Red October by directing an adaptation of Clear and Present Danger using a script written by John Milius.[15][16] After the studio opted to adapt Patriot Games, he declined to direct because of his Irish-American background. Walter Hill, Kevin Reynolds, and John Badham were considered to replace McTiernan. Badham was almost hired but asked for too high a fee, and Phillip Noyce was chosen instead. Donald Stewart returned from the first film to co-write the script with W. Peter Iliff.[4]

In the original novel, the assassination attempt was made on the Prince of Wales and many members of the British royal family appeared as important characters. They were replaced with fictitious characters in the screenplay, with Prince Charles being replaced by Lord Holmes, a nonexistent cousin of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.[15][17]


Shooting began on November 2, 1991. The budget was initially $28 million, but was raised to $40 million by Brandon Tartikoff. The movie was filmed on location in areas around London, at Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and at Pinewood Studios.[6] Scenes were also filmed at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.[18] Jack Ryan's home was filmed on the California coast and made to look like it was in Maryland.[19]

The scenes set at a terrorist camp in Libya were filmed in the desert near Brawley, California. To make the attack on the camp appear as infrared footage, actors wearing black body suits were filmed from a helicopter and the resulting video images were reversed in post-production.[20]

Patriot Games was the first movie to be allowed to film at the George Bush Center for Intelligence, CIA Headquarters.[21]

Filming also took place at Aldwych tube station (closed 1994), which was then only being used for weekday peak hour service, for a sequence later in the film.[22]

Test audiences in April 1992 responded negatively to the original ending, which had Jack Ryan and Sean Miller fighting underwater. The ending was re-shot with a more explosive finale.[23][24] The reshoots increased the film's production budget to $45 million,[25] and with the marketing budget included, the cost to the studio was $65 million.[4] While reshooting the scene, Harrison Ford accidentally hit Sean Bean with a boat hook; Bean has a scar over his eye as a result.[26]

Before seeing the film, numerous differences between the script and the novel caused Clancy to distance himself from the film production.[24] Clancy was unhappy with details of technical items scripted to be shown onscreen, and complained about the age of then-49-year-old Ford, as compared to the 34-year-old Baldwin, to portray his vision of Ryan.[4][27] During production he asked for his name to be taken off the film. He complained that the final attack scene was "unrealistic" and that he had not been shown any rushes. He said he was not sure a film of Clear and Present Danger would be made, as the script for Patriot Games meant it "will turn out so bad."[28] However, after meeting with Tartikoff and actually seeing a cut of the film, which did not – in fact – contain the details that Clancy mistakenly thought were going to be in the film, Clancy was "impressed with how the movie depicted the CIA’s intelligence-gathering process", and stated that he looked forward to working with the studio on the adaptation of Clear and Present Danger.[27]


Patriot Games: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by
James Horner
ReleasedJune 9, 1992
LabelRCA Records
Jack Ryan soundtrack chronology
The Hunt for Red October
Patriot Games: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Clear and Present Danger

On June 9, 1992, the original motion picture soundtrack was released by the RCA Records music label. The film's musical score was composed by James Horner and contains musical references to works by Aram Khachaturian (Adagio from "Gayane" Suite) and Dmitri Shostakovich (Symphony No. 5, 3rd mvt.). A music video is shown in an early scene featuring Clannad's song "Theme from Harry's Game", originally made for an ITV drama about The Troubles in 1982. All other vocal performances featured on the soundtrack were performed by Maggie Boyle.[29]

In 2013, a 2-disc expanded soundtrack album was released by La-La Land Records. Limited to 3000 copies, the album contains over 50 minutes of previously unreleased music (including cues by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and John Philip Sousa).[30]


Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 72% of 102 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.8/10. The website's consensus reads: "Patriot Games doesn't win many points for verisimilitude, but some entertaining set pieces -- and Harrison Ford in the central role -- more than compensate for its flaws."[31] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 67 out of 100, based on 20 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[32] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average score of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[33]

Roger Ebert called it "absorbing" while also commenting that Harrison Ford "once again demonstrates what a solid, convincing actor he is".[34] Chris Hicks of the Deseret News mentioned how director Noyce gave the film "flourish and tension" while star Harrison Ford injected "a commanding sense of decency and humanity to the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan, making it his own."[35]

There was controversy associated with the specifics of a negative review by Joseph McBride, in Variety.[36] McBride, of Irish descent, wrote that it was "fascistic, blatantly anti-Irish", and that the likely opening weekend box office draw of Harrison Ford would quickly be eliminated when "downbeat word-of-mouth spreads like wildfire."[37] In response, the editor-in-chief of Variety, Peter Bart, sent a letter to Martin S. Davis, chairman of Paramount, which – while not apologizing for the review being negative – stated that it was unprofessional for McBride to impose his political opinions into the film review.[36] While some staff at Variety were disapproving of the letter, others confirmed that they were "embarrassed" by McBride including his political views.[36]

Box office[edit]

Patriot Games grossed $83.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $94.7 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $178.1 million, against a budget of $45 million.[25] It debuted at No. 1 for the weekend of June 5, 1992,[38] repeated in the top spot in its second weekend, and spent its first six weeks in the Top 10 at the box office.[39]



  1. ^ "Patriot Games (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 9, 1992. Archived from the original on March 6, 2018. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  2. ^ Gardner, Eriq (February 11, 2021). "Judge Can't Figure Out Who Owns Rights to "Jack Ryan" Character". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  3. ^ "The Hunt for Red October". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Patriot Games". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  5. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (September 2, 1991). "Buzz: Test of Wills Over 'October' Sequels". Variety. Vol. 344, no. 8. p. 87.
  6. ^ a b Welkos, Robert W. (March 22, 1992). "MOVIES: Mr. Nice Guy Dives Back Into Action". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  7. ^ Baldwin, Alec (March 23, 2011). "'Two and a Half Men' Is Better Than None". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on March 13, 2011. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  8. ^ "Movie steam in Chicago". Railfan & Railroad. Vol. 10, no. 10. Carstens Publications. October 1991. p. 47.
  9. ^ "Chicago Movie Dropped". Railfan & Railroad. Vol. 10, no. 11. Carstens Publications. November 1991. p. 52.
  10. ^ a b Bettinger, Brendan (March 13, 2011). "Alec Baldwin Explains Why He Never Played Jack Ryan Again After THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER". Collider. Archived from the original on March 18, 2020. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  11. ^ Frook, John Evan. "Studio Talk of Production Cost Cuts Turns into Action". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Fleming, Charles (September 2, 1991). "Film: Baldwin quits 'Patriot Games'; Ford in?". Variety. Vol. 344, no. 8. p. 9.
  13. ^ "Entertainment News for June 21, 1991". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  14. ^ Taylor, Drew (October 2, 2013). "Ranked: Tom Clancy Movies, From Worst To Best". IndieWire. Archived from the original on October 21, 2020. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Revisiting Patriot Games: The First Jack Ryan "Reboot"". Den of Geek. March 26, 2015. Archived from the original on June 29, 2021. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
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  18. ^ Norton, Monica (December 4, 1991). "Harrison Ford is on location in Annapolis, but nobody seems to care". The Baltimore Evening Sun. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020.
  19. ^ Sweeten, Julia (August 11, 2014). "Harrison Ford's country home in 'Patriot Games'". hookedonhouses.net. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2020.
  20. ^ Marx, Andy (June 7, 1992). "When the CIA Draws the Line, You Just Wing It". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020.
  21. ^ Engel, Joel (June 19, 1992). "CIA removes cloak of mystery for Patriot Games". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020.
  22. ^ Badsey-Ellis, Antony; Horne, Mike (2009). The Aldwych Branch. Capital Transport. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-85414-321-1. Retrieved August 23, 2023 – via Google Books.
  23. ^ Kelley, Bill (June 21, 1992). "The End Revising the Climatic Moments of Movies is Nothing New…". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 6, 2020.
  24. ^ a b Galbraith, Jane (April 30, 1992). "Paramount to Reshoot 'Patriot Games' Ending". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  25. ^ a b "Patriot Games". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 22, 2023.Edit this at Wikidata
  26. ^ sable. "Sean Bean: The Biography". seanbeanonline.net. Archived from the original on September 12, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  27. ^ a b Welkos, Robert W. (May 23, 1992). "Clancy's War Over 'Patriot Games' Ends". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  28. ^ Warren, Tim (December 7, 1991). "Clancy Wants no Credit for 'Patriot Games' Film | Author says Script Diverges from Novel". The Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  29. ^ "LA LA LAND RECORDS, Patriot Games - James Horner - Limited Edition". La-La Land Records. Archived from the original on July 1, 2014. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  30. ^ "Expanded 'Patriot Games' Score by James Horner Released". Film Music Reporter. July 3, 2013. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
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  32. ^ "Patriot Games". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Retrieved August 22, 2023.
  33. ^ "Home". CinemaScore. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
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  38. ^ Fox, David J. (June 16, 1992). "Weekend Box Office: 'Patriot,' 'Sister' Lead the Pack". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  39. ^ "Patriot Games | Domestic Weekly". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 22, 2023.

External links[edit]