Patriot Games (film)

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Patriot Games
Patriot Games theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Phillip Noyce
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Patriot Games
1987 novel
by Tom Clancy
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Donald McAlpine
Edited by
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • June 5, 1992 (1992-06-05) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $45 million[2]
Box office $178 million[3]

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

The film premiered in theaters in the United States on June 5, 1992 and spent two weeks as the No. 1 film, grossing $178,051,587 in worldwide box office business. The next installment in the film series, Clear and Present Danger, also starred Ford and Archer.


Jack Ryan (Ford), a retired CIA analyst is on vacation with his family in London. After giving a lecture at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Ryan and his family witness a terrorist attack on Lord William Holmes (Fox), British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Ryan intervenes and disarms one of the assailants, and kills another two with the disarmed assailants firearm. Injured by a shot to the shoulder, Ryan waits for the police to respond, as the remaining terrorists flee. Whilst recovering, Ryan testifies in court against Sean Miller (Bean), a member of a Provisional Irish Republican Army splinter group. Sean is the assailant Ryan was able to neutralise in the attack against Lord Holmes, but had also killed his younger brother, Patrick Miller in the ensuing gun battle. Sean is later convicted for his crimes.

En route to Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight, Sean's prison convoy, escorted by the Police is ambushed by his comrades, including Kevin O'Donnell (Bergin). The Police Officers are executed, including Inspector Robert Highland (Threlfall). Free once more, Sean and his comrades flee to Northern Africa to plan their next kidnapping attempt on Lord Holmes. Seeking vengeance for his brother, Sean tries to convince several members of the splinter group to go to America with him, to kill Jack Ryan and his family. Ryan is later informed of Miller's escape by Vice Admiral James Greer (Jones), and Marty Cantor (Freeman), a former colleague of Ryan's, who mentions that it is possible Sean has fled the country, thereby indirectly implying Ryan's life is in danger. Greer attempts to recruit Ryan back into the C.I.A.. Ryan however refuses, confident that the IRA will not follow him to America.

London, where the opening scene takes place. (Westminster Bridge over the Thames)

Meanwhile, in England, Lord Holmes is informed of Sean's escape by both his assistant Watkins (Fraser) and Sergeant Owens (Armstrong). Considering the complexity of Sean's transfer (Inspector Highland being the only person with knowledge of the route to Albany Prison, including decoy routes and phoney convoys), Watkins and Owens conclude that there must have been an informant. Owens suggests that Lord Holmes lay low for a while, and postpone his appointments as Secretary to Northern Ireland. Holmes refuses to allow the IRA dictation over his position and authority.

At the U.S. Naval Academy, Ryan discusses the attack in London with Lieutenant Commander Robby Jackson (Jackson). As this occurs, Ryan's wife picks up their daughter from school, not aware that Sean is pursuing behind them. Simultaneously, Ryan is followed by two affiliates of Sean including Annette (Walker), one of the members who saw to Sean's earlier escape. Ryan narrowly avoids the attempt on his life, however his wife and daughter are seriously injured after being run off a busy highway by Sean, and crashed into a median. Ryan's daughter, having sustained life-threatening injuries has to have her spleen removed. A CNN broadcast highlights that the IRA, through Sinn Féin representative Paddy O'Neill (Harris), did not support and also condemn Sean's attack. O'Neill offers his apologies for the attack, however Ryan refuses to accept, instead returning to the CIA to ensure his family's safety from further attacks.

In Belfast, Ireland, an anonymous tip-off prompts Sergeant Owens to conduct a raid on a safe-house that is possibly holding Sean. But whilst arrests are made, Sean is not identified. Ryan deduces that the tip off was deliberate, noting that several IRA commanders were recently killed, hypothesising that a splinter group must be coordinating the attacks. He notes that police surveillance photos of a woman with long red hair (Annette) must have something to do with it, and that if she is found, Sean will also be found as well. Meanwhile, Sean, Annette and O'Donnell, as well as several of his comrades have taken refuge in a training camp in Libya. Sean is furious when he is informed that Ryan survived the assassination attempt. Back at home in Maryland, Ryan and his family return home, their house being outfitted with constant surveillance. Late one evening, Ryan receives a disturbing phone call directly from Sean, who proceeds to torture Ryan about his inability to protect his family, and revealing that he knows the consequences that befell his daughter.

Fearful, Ryan meets with O'Neill, demanding information that leads him to Sean and O'Donnell. O'Neill refuses to sell out his fellow Irishmen. Ryan, unable to convince O'Neill, threatens to poison O'Neill's fundraising campaign in America by allowing the press access to his family - thereby highlighting the IRA atrocities committed against the Ryans, and would undoubtedly reduce Sinn Féin influence. Later on, SO13 release information to Ryan that the weapons used by Sean and his comrades in London have been traced back to an Arms Dealer in Libya, but the exact whereabouts of it is unknown. To Ryan's surprise, O'Neill whistle-blows on one of Sean's associates, as she isn't Irish (O'Neill had previously told Ryan that he would not sell out his countrymen, but given that Annette is English, this invalidates O'Neill's morals.) Sergeant Owens meanwhile, is performing surveillance of a suspected affiliate of Sean, posing as a rare book collector. After smoke emits from one of his lights, an electrician discovers Owens' camera, blowing Owens' investigation and also alarming the Owner. Owens gives pursuit, but the owner manages to evade arrest, and flees to North Africa to join Sean. However, The Librarian who is briefly identified as Dennis is of no further use to Sean or O'Donnell, and is subsequently executed.

The go ahead is given for the British Special Air Service to conduct a raid on a specific camp, spotted through American satellites that Ryan believes identify the English redhead. The SAS kill everyone in the camp, but unknown to Ryan, Sean and his close associates had previously fled the camp to Washington, as Lord Holmes has gone there to present Ryan with his KCVO medal, therefore presenting an opportunity to kill Holmes, and for Sean to enact his revenge.

A storm supposedly knocks out power to the Ryan residence, but since nearby street lights and adjacent buildings remain lit despite the 'outage' he realises that someone must have knocked out the power deliberately, to their property only. Sean's team kill the U.S. Diplomatic Security Service agents as well as Maryland State Police troopers, rendering the Ryan residence totally defenseless. As Ryan and Jackson move to secure the house, Watkins emerges from the cellar where the power switch is, confirming to Ryan his own suspicions that Watkins is the informant. Shortly after, Sean's men assault the house and attempt to kidnap Lord Holmes, Ryan however leads him and his family to safety, and lures Sean and his comrades away from the home.

Marty alerts the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team to the Ryan residence. Sean, O'Donnell and Annette follow Ryan to the shoreline, believing Holmes is with him. They pursue Ryan by boat, but O'Donnell realises that Ryan is alone, leading Sean away from Lord Holmes. Annette and O'Donnell try to persuade Sean to turn around, but an enraged Miller kills them both, adamant at claiming his revenge. Sean disables Ryan's boat by shooting the engine. Ryan gains the upper hand in the subsequent fight with Sean, and impales him on the anchor, killing him. The boat crashes into a reef and explodes, allowing the Rescue Team to find Ryan and bring him back ashore. The film ends with the Ryans resuming their normal life, which includes Mrs. Ryan expecting another child, and receiving the call from their obstetrician confirming the sex of the baby.


Samuel L. Jackson portrayed the fictional character Robby Jackson.



The actors who played Jack and Caroline Ryan in The Hunt for Red October, Alec Baldwin and Gates McFadden, were unavailable. Baldwin had committed to perform in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway.[4] In 2011, Baldwin says he did not appear because of "sleazy Hollywood tools."[5]


Filming also took place at Aldwych underground station for a sequence later in the film.[6] The numerous changes between the film and the novel caused Clancy to distance himself from the film production.[7] Harrison Ford accidentally hit Sean Bean with a boat hook while shooting the final scene; Bean has a scar over his eye as a result.[8]


Patriot Games: Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Film score by James Horner
Released June 9, 1992
Length 45:10
Label RCA Records
Jack Ryan soundtrack chronology
The Hunt for Red October
Patriot Games
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.[9]

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).[10]


Critical response[edit]

I haven't read Clancy's Patriot Games, and for all I know this movie is faithful to his book, but on the basis of The Hunt for Red October, which I have read, I expected this one to be a little more cerebral and without the Indiana Jones ending.

Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times[11]

Despite receiving generally positive reviews, the film garnered a lot of controversy during its release, from Tom Clancy disowning the film, to critics complaining it was too different from the book.[12][13][14] The film has earned a 75% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.[15]

Roger Ebert called it "absorbing" while also commenting how actor Harrison Ford "once again demonstrates what a solid, convincing actor he is".[11] 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."[16]

Box office[edit]

The film was a financial success, debuting at the number one position for the weekend of June 5, 1992.[17] During that weekend, the film grossed $18,511,191 in business showing at 2,365 locations.[3] The film's revenue dropped by 39.5% in its second week of release, earning $11,208,134. For that particular weekend, the film remained in 1st place with an increased theater count of 2,396. Patriot Games went on to top out domestically at $83,351,587 in ticket sales and $94,700,000 in foreign business for a worldwide total of $178,051,587 through an initial 9-week theatrical run.[3] For 1992 as a whole, the film would cumulatively rank at a box office performance position of 14.[18]


  1. ^ "Patriot Games (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 9, 1992. Retrieved September 4, 2016. 
  2. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (1992-05-23). "Clancy's War Over 'Patriot Games' Ends". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  3. ^ a b c "Patriot Games (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  4. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (1992-03-22). "MOVIES: Mr. Nice Guy Dives Back Into Action: Harrison Ford returns to the genre that made him a star. In 'Patriot Games,' he inherits the role of the C.I.A. agent from Alec Baldwin, but the production is in trouble with author Tom Clancy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  5. ^ Baldwin, Alec (2011-03-23). "'Two and a Half Men' Is Better Than None". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-01-26. 
  6. ^ Badsey-Ellis, Antony; Horne, Mike (2009). The Aldwych Branch. Capital Transport. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-85414-321-1. 
  7. ^ Galbraith, Jane (1992-04-30). "Paramount to Reshoot 'Patriot Games' Ending: Movies: Studio to change climactic boat scene after test audiences complained about film's ambiguous finale". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  8. ^ "Sean Bean: The Biography". Retrieved 2014-09-12. 
  9. ^ "LA LA LAND RECORDS, Patriot Games - James Horner - Limited Edition". La-La Land Records. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Expanded 'Patriot Games' Score by James Horner Released". Film Music Reporter. July 3, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b "Patriot Games". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  12. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (1992-06-11). "Variety Editor's Letter Over Review Angers Employees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  13. ^ "Patriot Games". Entertainment Weekly. 1992-06-05. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  14. ^ "Patriot Games". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2011-01-07. 
  15. ^ "Patriot Games". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-01-31. 
  16. ^ "Film Review: Patriot Games". Deseret News. Retrieved 2014-01-24. 
  17. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-06-16). "Weekend Box Office : 'Patriot,' 'Sister' Lead the Pack". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 
  18. ^ "1992 DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 

External links[edit]