Reviewed by: Brett Willis
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
This is a sequel to “The Hunt for Red October” in the sense that it’s based on a Tom Clancy “Jack Ryan” novel. But other than the characters of Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones) and Jack Ryan (played here by Harrison Ford rather than Alec Baldwin), this film and the later sequel “Clear and Present Danger” have no strong connection to the first film. I believe “Red October” was the best of this series in terms of intricate plot and pure entertainment value, and it’s downhill from there.
In this film, Ryan has retired from the CIA, but just happens to be in the right place at the right time to break up an Irish Republican Army attempt to kidnap Lord Holmes (James Fox), a member of the British Royal Family. Ryan captures fanatical IRA gunman Sean Miller (Sean Bean) and kills Miller’s younger brother. Miller’s equally fanatical cohorts Kevin O’Donnell (Patrick Bergin) and Annette (Polly Walker) break away from the mainstream IRA (killing several of their former comrades in the process), spring Miller from prison, and rededicate themselves to another attempt at kidnapping Lord Holmes. But Miller also wants personal vengeance on Ryan, and that creates a division even within this ultra-militant group. So the plot doesn’t major on unexpected twists, but rather on individuals and groups competing for the “most traitorous” and “most fanatical” awards. There’s also a disquieting scene where the CIA sends an elite hunter-killer squad to wipe out a camp in North Africa where it believes (but is not certain) that the ultra-IRA faction is training.
There’s strong profanity including several uses of “f*”; many scenes of strong violence and several bloody on-screen deaths; one scene of implied sex (no visible nudity, due to discreet camera angles) followed by violence. The “regular” IRA is not shown as particularly good or bad, just as a little more restrained than this fictional breakaway faction.
Side note: This film and the similar Harrison Ford film “The Devil’s Own” clearly show the ongoing hatred between the British and the proponents of Irish Independence, but do not explain the root causes of the conflict that generates that hatred.
Here’s a quick historical overview for those needing one. Britain has dominated Ireland since the 12th Century, when the Pope granted the King of England Overlordship of Ireland. The Irish always resented this arrangement, which included feudal absentee landlordism; and when England became Protestant, religious discrimination was added to ethnic discrimination. Henry VIII and Elizabeth I crushed several rebellions and strengthened Britain’s hold on Ireland. Then in 1649 Oliver Cromwell executed the King of England and tried to establish a permanent non-monarchial form of British government (with himself as the first Lord Protector). Cromwell led a strike into Ireland which included a massacre of civilians at Drogheda. He also continued Elizabeth’s policy of sending British settlers into Ulster (northern Ireland). By that action of diluting and outnumbering the native population, Ulster, which was once the province most resistant to British rule, became the most receptive. When the rest of Ireland finally won independence in 1921, six Protestant-majority counties in Ulster chose to remain British.
Some in the Irish Independence movement will not rest until the entire island is reunited. The media often calls this a struggle between Catholics and Protestants, although it could just as well be called a simple independence movement or a struggle between ethnic Irish and Scotch-Irish. As in any other situation where the killing has gone on for several hundred years (think of Yugoslavia), many members of the warring factions are now motivated by a desire for personal revenge as well as by the larger cause. An outside peacekeeping force that’s stronger than either of the factions may create a temporary enforced peace; but only the love of Jesus (that changes people’s hearts and makes forgiveness possible) can really bring conflict to an end.