Patriot Games (film)

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Patriot Games
Patriot Games theatrical poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byPhillip Noyce
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onPatriot Games
by Tom Clancy
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyDonald McAlpine
Edited by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • June 5, 1992 (1992-06-05) (United States)
Running time
117 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$45 million[2]
Box office$178 million[3]

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. The film 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 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.

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 following film in the series, Clear and Present Danger (1994), also starred Ford and Archer.


Retired CIA analyst Jack Ryan is on vacation with his family in London. Ryan and his family witness an assassination attempt on Lord William Holmes, Minister of State for Northern Ireland, only for Ryan to intervene. Injured in the attack, Ryan kills two of the assailants, one being 16-year-old Patrick Miller, while his older brother Sean looks on. The remaining attackers flee as Sean is apprehended by the police. While recovering, Ryan is called to testify in court against Miller, who is part of a splinter cell of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. Miller is convicted for his crimes and swears revenge against Ryan.

The leader of the splinter cell, Kevin O'Donnell, meets with IRA brigade commander Jimmy Reardon, who tricks O'Donnell into going into an ambush so he can be assassinated by hitmen. O'Donnell turns the tables on his attackers and kills them all while O'Donnell's lover, Annette, assassinates Reardon. While being transferred to HM Prison Albany on the Isle of Wight, Miller's escort convoy is ambushed by his comrades, including O'Donnell, who execute the police officers and coordinate an escape. Miller and his companions flee to North Africa to plan another kidnapping attempt on Lord Holmes. Miller persuades several members of the group to accompany him to the United States, where he plans to eliminate Ryan and his family.

Annette and fellow terrorist Ned Clark attempt to assassinate Ryan outside the United States Naval Academy, but Ryan notices Clark following him. Clark overwhelms Ryan, only to be shot by a Marine guard. Miller and a henchman attack Ryan's pregnant wife Cathy and their daughter Sally on a busy highway, injuring them both. Enraged over the attack on his family, Ryan decides to go back to work for the CIA, having earlier rejected the appeal of his former superior, Vice Admiral James Greer.

Ryan's analysis leads him to conclude that Miller has taken refuge in a training camp in North Africa. A Special Air Service team kills everyone in the camp while Ryan looks on through a live satellite feed. Unbeknownst to Ryan, Miller and his companions have left the camp and are on their way to the U.S. to stage their next attack.

Lord Holmes decides to visit Ryan at his home to present his honorary knighthood in recognition of his role in foiling the first attack on Holmes. With the aid of Holmes' traitorous assistant, Miller's group tracks Holmes to Ryan's coast-side home in Maryland. The team kill the DSS agents and state troopers guarding the residence, and make an attempt to kidnap Lord Holmes. Ryan leads Holmes and his family to safety.

The FBI's Hostage Rescue Team scrambles to pick up Holmes. Ryan develops a ruse to leave his family and Lord Holmes behind, near the shoreline, while racing away from the coast on a boat. Miller, O'Donnell and Annette follow suit, and chase him in a secondary boat. Upon realizing that Ryan is leading them away from Holmes, O'Donnell and Annette try to persuade him to turn around, but an enraged Miller kills them both and continues his pursuit of Ryan. Miller reaches Ryan's boat, jumps aboard, and attacks Ryan. During their fight, Ryan impales Miller on an anchor, killing him. Ryan jumps clear of the boat before it crashes into several rocks, and is rescued by an FBI helicopter.

Sometime later, Cathy receives a call from her obstetrician; giving her the baby's latest test results.




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.[4] 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.[5] Baldwin further claimed this occurred after a famous actor, widely believed to be the film's eventual star Harrison Ford, offered to play Ryan and was favored by both the studio and the director John McTiernan due to a large debt owed to him from an unproduced film.[6] 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."[7] 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.[6]

McTiernan initially wanted to direct an adaptation of Clear and Present Danger using a script written by John Milius.[8][9] After the studio opted to adapt Patriot Games, he declined to direct because of his Irish-American background and was replaced with Phillip Noyce. 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. As a result, 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.[8][10]


The movie was filmed on location in areas around London, at Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and at Pinewood Studios.[11] Scenes were also filmed in Annapolis, Maryland.[12] Jack Ryan's home was filmed on the California coast and made to look like it was in Maryland.[13]

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.[14]

Patriot Games was the first movie to be allowed to film at the George Bush Center for Intelligence, CIA Headquarters.[15]

Filming also took place at Aldwych underground station for a sequence later in the film.[16] 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.[17]

Test audiences 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.[18][19]

The numerous changes between the film and the novel caused Clancy to distance himself from the film production.[20] Clancy was unhappy with the script and during production 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 would be made of Clear and Present Danger "because I think Patriot Games will turn out so bad."[21]


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.[22]

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).[23]


Critical reception[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[24]

Despite receiving generally positive reviews, the film garnered controversy during its release, from Tom Clancy disowning the film, to critics complaining it was too different from the book.[25][26][27] Nonetheless the film has earned a 73% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 40 reviews. The site's consensus states: "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."[28]

Roger Ebert called it "absorbing" while also commenting how actor Harrison Ford "once again demonstrates what a solid, convincing actor he is".[24] 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."[29]

Box office[edit]

The film was a financial success, debuting at the number one position for the weekend of June 5, 1992.[30] 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.[31]


  1. ^ "Patriot Games (15)". British Board of Film Classification. June 9, 1992. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  2. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (May 23, 1992). "Clancy's War Over 'Patriot Games' Ends". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Patriot Games (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  4. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (March 22, 1992). "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 January 6, 2011.
  5. ^ Baldwin, Alec (March 23, 2011). "'Two and a Half Men' Is Better Than None". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 26, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Bettinger, Brendan (March 13, 2011). "Alec Baldwin Explains Why He Never Played Jack Ryan Again After THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER". Collider. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  7. ^ Taylor, Drew (October 2, 2013). "Ranked: Tom Clancy Movies, From Worst To Best". IndieWire. Retrieved March 17, 2020.
  8. ^ a b "Revisiting Patriot Games: The First Jack Ryan "Reboot"". Den of Geek. March 26, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  9. ^ "Harrison Ford takes on Tom Clancy...again". Retrieved March 16, 2020.
  10. ^ Hinson, Hal (June 5, 1992). "'Patriot Games' (R)". Washington Post. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  11. ^ Movies: Mr. Nice Guy Dives Back Into Action Welkos, Robert M. LA Times, March 22, 1992.
  12. ^ Harrison Ford is on location in Annapolis, but nobody seems to care Norton, Monica. The Baltimore Evening Sun, Dec. 4, 1991.
  13. ^ Harrison Ford's country home in 'Patriot Games'
  14. ^ When the CIA Draws the Line, You Just Wing It Marx, Andy. LA Times, June 7, 1992.
  15. ^ CIA removes cloak of mystery for Patriot Games Engel, Joel. Chicago Tribune, June 19, 1992.
  16. ^ Badsey-Ellis, Antony; Horne, Mike (2009). The Aldwych Branch. Capital Transport. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-85414-321-1.
  17. ^ "Sean Bean: The Biography". Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  18. ^ The End Kelley, Bill. The Sun Sentinel, June 21, 1992.
  19. ^ Paramount to reshoot 'Patriot Games' ending
  20. ^ Galbraith, Jane (April 30, 1992). "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 January 6, 2011.
  21. ^ "Clancy wants no credit for 'Patriot Games' film Author says script diverges from novel". Baltimore Sun. December 7, 1991.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ "Expanded 'Patriot Games' Score by James Horner Released". Film Music Reporter. July 3, 2013. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Patriot Games". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
  25. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (June 11, 1992). "Variety Editor's Letter Over Review Angers Employees". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  26. ^ "Patriot Games". Entertainment Weekly. June 5, 1992. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  27. ^ "Patriot Games". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 7, 2011.
  28. ^ "Patriot Games". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  29. ^ "Film Review: Patriot Games". Deseret News. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  30. ^ Fox, David J. (June 16, 1992). "Weekend Box Office : 'Patriot,' 'Sister' Lead the Pack". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 6, 2011.
  31. ^ "1992 DOMESTIC GROSSES". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 23, 2014.

External links[edit]