Author Tom Clancy hit pay dirt with the success of 1990's The Hunt For Red October, which introduced the character Jack Ryan, played by Alec Baldwin. Fast forward two years and the series is soft re-booted in Patriot Games, with Harrison Ford in the role of Jack Ryan, under new Director, Australia's Phillip Noyce.
When ex-CIA agent Jack Ryan (Harrison Forward) is holidaying with his wife (Anne Archer) in London, he foils an assassination attempt on the Secretary of State to Northern Ireland, by a splinter group of the IRA. When Ryan shoots and kills one of the assassins, Patrick Miller, his brother Sean (Sean Bean) vows revenge on Ryan, following him half way around the world in an unexpected act of vengeance.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary, Patriot Games has aged relatively well, and includes a good example of the ever dependable Harrison Ford, who is still in his prime.
Patriot Games is presented in the film's original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with AVC MPEG-4 compression.
First; the good: This is a relatively sharp and detailed image, far surpassing the standard definition DVD. Colour balance is generally good, even if some tones are slightly shifted, appearing as if the contrast has been set too low.
I noticed somewhat frequent blooming and focus issues on certain shots throughout, however this is a reflection of use of Panavision's anamorphic lenses used on the production and not a fault of the transfer per se.
Now to the bad; sadly there are far too many film artifacts on the transfer for my liking, in the way of constant black and white flecks, which litter almost every frame to varying degrees. The optical fades are telegraphed well in advance, featuring even more film artifacts - obviously the film was more man handled at those points. We are spoiled in that most studios clean these up these days, so when they don't, it sticks out like a sore thumb.
Overall, it's a good image, but considering film artifacts are my ultimate pet peeve, I can't help but be disappointed in this transfer.
Patriot Games is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1, at 24 bits.
Originally presented in Dolby Stereo, the audio track has been expanded to full 5.1 with pretty good results. Occasionally the mix can sound a little 'thin', although far from tinny, but I concede this is more of a reflection of the original mix rather than a fault.
It's certainly not the most aggressive sound mix, with the majority of the sound field contained to the front soundstage, but this is typical of early 90's stereo to surround conversions.
The Celtic tones of James Horner's score have always got me off side, despite being relatively appropriate to the locations of the film. That said, it is mixed well and features some particularly good split surround separation.
Paramount hasn't produced any new extra features for the debut of Patriot Games on Blu-ray, but they have retained the previous DVD features and bumped one up to HD.
First up is the 25 minute long Up Close featurette, which takes a reasonably detailed look at converting the book and interviewing the major players. The only other extra is the original Theatrical Trailer in HD.
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