Film / Patriot Games

Admiral Greer: Excuse me, Jack, tell me one thing in life that is absolutely for certain.
Jack Ryan: My daughter's love.

Patriot Games is a 1992 film starring Harrison Ford and Sean Bean, adapted from the novel of the same name by Tom Clancy. It is the sequel to The Hunt for Red October and was followed by a third film, Clear and Present Danger.

As in the novel, Ryan is on a working vacation in London, researching for an upcoming book of his when not playing "tourist" with his family, when he gets involved in The Troubles by interfering with an attack on the British royal family by an IRA splinter group called the Ulster Liberation Army, which then seeks revenge on him for the interference in the kidnapping of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

This film provides examples of:

  • Action Survivor: Jack Ryan, despite being a Badass Bookworm, is generally out of his depth in a stand-up fight. In two of the movie's three fight scenes, Jack has the Home Field Advantage (in fact, the assassin at Annapolis seems to almost go out of his way to attack him in the one place where The Cavalry can arrive immediately), and in the third, he has the element of surprise, being an unexpected Badass Bystander.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books Cathy Ryan is a blonde.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the book, Sean Miller seeks revenge because he had never failed a mission before and Ryan ruined his record. Here, his brother was killed by Ryan.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: The film omits that Sean and some others had already left the IRA camp to launch their attack on Ryan's house when the assault happens, leaving them appearing to come out of nowhere in the climax.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The film version of Sean Miller is even more violent and crazy than the book version. This may be related to his Adaptational Angst Upgrade.
  • Adaptational Wimp: In the book, Dennis Cooley joins the group at their training camp and is part of the group that attacks the Ryan home at the end. In the movie, he's completely inept with a gun and Miller kills him when he realizes he's useless.
  • Adult Fear: Step in to help strangers from being killed by masked gunmen? One of them wants revenge for you killing his brother, and has violently escaped from prison, and he will cross oceans to seek Revenge on you by going after your family in turn.
    Cathy: It was him wasn't it? He's never gonna leave us alone...
  • Ax-Crazy: Miller.
  • Back in the Saddle: Jack has quit working for the CIA to teach History at the Navy Academy. The events of the film conspire to get him working for The Company again.
  • Badass Bookworm: Downplayed Trope: Jack Ryan is a former Marine, and a determined Papa Wolf, but he has spent his career in the CIA as an analyst and is now an aging history professor. In the Naval Yard ambush, he gets the drop on Ned Clark, but only gets a few blows in before getting pummeled senseless, and is only saved when a sentry shows up and shoots Clark as he tries to draw his gun.
  • Badass Bystander: Jack Ryan is sightseeing in London when he ends up intervening in an attempted assassination attempt. Deconstructed to a degree when the terrorists he stopped want revenge...
  • Battle in the Rain: The climactic boat chase at the end.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Sean Miller and Kevin O'Donnell until Miller goes completely crazy and kills O'Donnell in order to pursue Ryan.
  • Brick Joke: Ryan calls his house maid and instructs her to replace Sally's fish in case it turns out they died from not being fed. The family comes home and Sally notices that they've gotten bigger.
  • British Royal Guards: They show up a little late, but they do get to show some of their mettle in this film. Sally Ryan does a brief tapdancing routine in front of one guard trying to get a reaction, and when he doesn't respond she says "I'm impressed" and wanders off. Shortly thereafter, they're the first Brits to respond to the attack on Lord Holmes and his family.
    Guard: Army! Drop it!
  • Busman's Holiday: Ryan certainly has an oddly familiar holiday experience in London.
  • Category Traitor: Miller and his men consider Inspector Robert Highland to be one of these because he's an Irishman working for the British justice system (from his last name it can be guessed he's probably a Protestant Unionist, and so on the other side of The Troubles from them). For this, they execute him with a bullet to the back of the head when they liberate Miller.
  • The Cavalry: Jack is saved by the Marine sentries when he is attacked outside the gate at the Navy Academy.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Marine sentry at the Annapolis gate saves Jack from an assassin on his way home. The British Royal Guards are a more minor example in the intro. Also, Cathy Ryan is a physician, which comes in quite handy when Jack is injured in the melee.
    • Inverted later on, where the analyst who inspired Jack's Eureka Moment can be seen later on in the satellite room.
  • Cliffhanger: A rather low key one, as the film ends with Ryan about to learn the gender of his new baby. The next film reveals it's a boy.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: When the SAS soldiers launch their night raid on the desert camp, it's less of a battle than it is a slaughter. The entire battle lasts only a couple of minutes, with presumably everyone in the camp killed (although we do see one camp defender feebly crawling along the ground). Later, Marty comments that some of the people in the camp will have to be identified by dental records due to the corpses being unrecognizable.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Ryan thwarts a terrorist attack and kills the brother of one of the terrorists. And now, Miller wants to get revenge by killing Ryan and his family. Miller manages to wound his wife and daughter, but not kill them, and Ryan rejoins the CIA to get revenge on Miller.
  • Dark Action Girl: Annette, girlfriend of Kevin O'Donnell and member of the main team of villains.
  • Darker and Edgier: Probably the darkest of the Jack Ryan films. It's also the only Jack Ryan movie to be given an R rating.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the film, Miller is killed when he falls on a boat anchor and is impaled. In the book he is disarmed and captured by Jack Ryan, who turns him over to the authorities. It is mentioned in later books that he was sentenced to death for his crimes and executed by the state.
    • Dennis Cooley dies much earlier in the movie than in the book.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Annette gets ambushed by Cathy when she turns a corner only to be met by the back end of Cathy's unloaded shotgun.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Miller is this to O'Donnell. After his brother is killed, he doesn't care about O'Donnell's plans on kidnapping Lord Holmes. He only wants to get revenge on Ryan and his family for the death of his brother. In the final battle, Miller ends up shooting both O'Donnell and Annette as they attempt to turn the boat around to get Holmes as Ryan uses himself as bait for the terrorists.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Jack Ryan is sight seeing in London when he sees a car leaving the Royal Palace get boxed in by two stolen cars, from which Miller and his brother burst out, wearing ski masks. He immediately sprints across the street yelling for his family to take cover before the bomb goes off and the shooting starts. Soon after, Jack leaps into the fray to intervene in the attack. Thus, the audience immediately knows that Jack is quick at being savvy in realizing what is about to happen, and doesn't hesitate when action is needed.
  • Exact Words: Paddy O'Neil tells Jack that he would never reveal where his fellow countryman Sean Miller was hiding because he is "one of his own." However, Annette, who is part of his outfit was born in Britain, not Ireland.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When the prison convoy is ambushed, Inspector Highland tells Miller to just kill him and get it over with.
  • Final Battle: Between Ryan and Miller.
  • Friend or Foe: Lord Holmes's aide, the mole who's been supplying inside information to the terror cell, gets killed when Sean Miller sprays the basement indiscriminately with submachine gun fire, earning him a What the Hell, Hero? from his boss.
  • Get It Over With: As Sean Miller's cohorts rescue him from the prison van, they prepare to execute the guards, asking if any of them has any last words. Inspector Highland simply says:
    Inspector Highland: Get on with it and be on your way.
    Kevin O'Donnell: Very well, then. [O'Donnell hands his pistol to Miller. Miller shoots Highland in the back of the head, then does the same to Highland's colleagues]
  • Hand Signals: A tech uses a spy camera to peek under a door at an IRA bomb factory and holds up four fingers to tell the officers behind him how many suspects there are inside. The cops proceed to relay the signal back to those behind them in the stairwell.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Paddy, who offers to provide Jack pictures of the terrorists who attacked his family.
  • Home Field Advantage: An assassin attempts to attack Jack within eyesight of a pair of armed Marine sentries, all but guaranteeing an immediate armed response. Later, the film's climactic battle takes place in the Ryans' home.
  • Hostage Situation/Human Shield: When Miller's cohorts attack the van, they drag the driver from it and threaten to kill him unless the van doors are opened. Inspector Highland tells the other officers to open the door. When they protest that they should wait, Highland snaps, "For what? For them to kill him and then open the door?"
    • Earlier, in the opening sequence, Cathy shields Sally with her body, and Ryan shields them both with his as the shooting starts.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Miller is killed when Jack pushes him into a boat anchor.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Cathy is in the second trimester of her pregnancy when she and Sally are injured in a car accident caused by Miller.
  • Incoming Ham: Robby Jackson interrupts Jack Ryan's history course by marching into the room and announcing "Attention to Orders!" before presenting him with The Order Of The Purple Target, in the hopes that next time, Jack will duck.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: A variation — after Jack Ryan's IRA informant gives him pictures of the people who had attempted to kill Ryan (and in a separate attack, his wife and daughter), Jack's superior dismisses the information, believing that mole is trying to mislead Jack. "All he has to do is show you a few pictures of a girl..." Jack realizes he never told the man he was looking for a female assassin and realizes the information must be legitimate.
  • Interrupted by the End: Cathy learns whether her unborn child will be a boy or a girl, just before the credits roll on a shot of Jack Ryan anxiously awaiting the answer.
  • Intimidation Demonstration: During the trial, Sean Miller leaps at Jack Ryan, snarling at him for killing his brother. Jack stands his ground.
  • The Irish Diaspora: It's not focused on, but Jack is an Irish-American, and allusions are made to the support that the Irish-American population generally gave to the IRA and the IRA's vested interest in ensuring everyone in the US knows they aren't responsible for Miller's rampage, since the ULA that Miller runs is a splinter cell.
  • It's Personal: The main reason Miller is so hell-bent on revenge against Ryan, a plot device that was not present in the book.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Miller calls Jack at home to chat about how he nearly killed Jack's family.
  • Karmic Death: O'Donnell leads a splinter faction of the IRA that favors more violent tactics in pursuing the royal family. Thus, he makes the effort to free Miller, his most Ax-Crazy operative. This backfires horribly on him when he interferes with Miller's Roaring Rampage of Revenge against Ryan, and is promptly killed for it.
    • Same with Holmes' traitorous secretary, who makes it possible for O'Donnell and Miller to ambush Ryan and Holmes at the former's home; he is found out and left to his comrades, and is mistakenly gunned down by Miller in his pursuit of Ryan.
  • Medal of Dishonor: Friendly joke version: Jack is presented with the Order of the Purple Target after he returns to the Navy Academy.
  • The Mole: Geoffrey Watkins, aide to Lord Holmes, is responsible for making possible the splinter cell's first attempt on Holmes's life.
  • Named by the Adaptation: The member of the British Royal Family who Ryan rescues from a terrorist attack is named as Lord William Holmes; in the novel, he is unnamed but heavily implied to be Prince Charles.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If the splinter cell hadn't liberated Miller, their plans to assassinate Lord Holmes might've worked. It was ultimately his lust for revenge against Ryan that led to the plan failing.
  • Oh, Crap!: Ryan's reaction when he realizes he's being stalked. It kicks into high gear after surviving the attempt on his life, as he realizes that if Sean Miller didn't come after him, he's going after his family.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. Sean Miller's brother's name is Patrick. But there's also Paddy O'Neil, the IRA Bagman. "Paddy" is short for "Patrick".
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Played straight. Ryan recovers from his gunshot wound to the shoulder wearing nothing but a sling on his arm. A notable difference from the book, which averts this trope.
  • Out with a Bang: Annette takes out one target by shooting him midway through sex.
  • Papa Wolf: Jack is an easy-going History professor, but stand between him and the man threatening his family, and he will fucking destroy you.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: It's not that her disguise is bad, per se, but rather that Annette never bothers to use a different wig any time she needs a disguise, meaning that she always has the same (striking red-haired) appearance whenever she is running an op. This helps Jack zero in on her.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Considering the difficulties of getting the real life Prince and Princess of Wales to star in the movie, it's likely why Lord William Holmes was created.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: While O'Donnell and a few of the members of the ULA grant Miller some resources and leeway for exacting revenge against Ryan for Patrick's death, they warn him not to get too obsessed with Ryan, as it interferes with their plans to kidnap or assassinate Lord Holmes, and the greater political goal of their terrorist acts in general. When his assassination attempts against Ryan and his family fail and he still wants more revenge, they chide him for disregarding their earlier warning and order him back to work on their kidnapping/assassination project. Then, as the IRA realizes Miller's stirring up Ryan against them has become a major liability to their cause, they sell out his entire ULA splinter faction for being more trouble than it's worth.
  • Precision F-Strike: Jack goes to O'Neil asking him for help finding Sean Miller and his men. He refuses to sell out his own countrymen (not least of all because it would likely shorten his lifespan considerably). Jack informs him that if they don't help him, he'll go to the press back in the US and insist the IRA was behind the hit on his family (despite knowing for a fact they weren't), destroying their reputation and support among the sympathetic Irish-American population.
    I will fucking destroy you!
  • Properly Paranoid: Upon leaving work, Jack is preparing to cross the street when he notices Ned Clark idling nearby. Clark casually walks away, but Jack is clearly unnerved, then gets even more nervous as he hears a car engine starting. His suspicions are well warranted-as he continues walking down the street, the audience sees that both Clark and the car are following him. Luckily, Jack notices this too and is able to thwart the attempt on his life, as well as get a glimpse of Annette, the getaway driver.
  • Reality Ensues: Middle-aged Jack gets his ass kicked by the much-younger Ned Clark and it's only the fast action of the guards that save his life.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Admiral Greer. He rarely ever gives orders, but is able to make it clear in few words what he expects his people to do. Whenever Jack seems unsure, he provides gentle encouragement.
    • Marty is very hesitant to bring Jack on board, stating that Jack's specialty is naval intelligence, not terrorism, and also states that Jack is way too close to this case to work it with the level head he needs to do it properly. Once it's clear that Jack is going to be working for him anyways, he acts as a Devil's Advocate, pointing out possible flaws in Jack's theories and forcing him to consider them to strengthen his arguments.
  • Red Herring: When Jack suggests to Marty Cantor about changing the time when the spy satellite will pass over the suspected ULA camp (Jack's guess is that they are aware of when the satellite will pass over and get under cover; changing the time will catch them unawares), there is a dramatic zoom on Marty, as if to suggest that he will be against it because he's a mole for the terrorist cell. In truth, he's only against it because of the cost to do so.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: Like the novel, the Ulster Liberation Army is an offshoot of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. In the movie they're unnamed, though, and it goes even further: they kill/snitch on IRA members, as O'Donnell does to a couple of hitmen in one scene, and Annette during sex with another IRA member.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Sean Miller's Fatal Flaw. He craves revenge for his brother well beyond anything else, and ends up tearing his own organization and their mission down in his efforts to get at Jack and his family.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Sean Miller targets not just Jack, but his wife and daughter too.
  • Revenge Myopia: Sean Miller wants to kill Jack because he killed his brother Patrick, but it occurred during their assassination attempt against Lord Holmes.
  • Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Both on the poster (with Jack Ryan), and in the film itself, in the scene where Sean Miller executes Dennis Cooley with an automatic at point-blank range.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: As soon as she realizes what is going on, Kathy ushers their daughter into a bedroom closet and retrieves a shotgun. Unfortunately, she can't find the shells, so when Annette comes looking for them, Kathy gives her a butt to the face.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Miller delivers one to O'Donnell when he abandons the mission to kidnap Holmes to kill Ryan against O'Donnell's protests, before promptly shooting him.
  • Spy Satellites: The film features a scene where Ryan watches a live satellite feed of a British SAS team attacking the terrorist camp. Unbeknownst to him, Sean Miller is not at the camp.
  • The Unreveal: During the epilogue, the Ryans are on the phone with their doctor, discussing whether they want to know if the baby will be a boy or a girl.
    Kathy: OK, Tell us... thank you!
    Kathy grins at Jack, Jack nods at her waiting for an answer. -Beat- Credits Roll.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: At the end, Miller is killed when he is impaled on a boat anchor by Ryan, followed by him getting blown up to pieces as the boat Ryan and Miller are fighting on crashes into large rocks in a massive fiery explosion.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Annette and Ned Clark prepare to carry out what is clearly a very well planned out assassination of Ryan. Somehow, it never occurred to them that they would be doing this on the grounds of a military academy, with armed guards patrolling at all times. Even had they been successful they would likely have been shot within seconds—which is precisely the fate that befalls Clark.
    • Annette holds Miller at gunpoint after he's murdered O'Donnell but is too slow to fire.
  • Tranquil Fury: When Ryan gazes upon his daughter in the hospital bed, fighting for her life. Complete with Manly Tears.
  • Useless Spleen: Averted. Jack Ryan's daughter loses her spleen after an attack by the terrorists, and later Miller, while taunting Ryan, makes a point of mentioning how she'll be disadvantaged.
  • Villain Has a Point: All other considerations aside, Jack did kill Sean's brother, which is a pretty solid reason to want his head.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Weaponized by Ryan - the IRA bag-man refuses to sell out any member of the IRA who was involved in the attack on Ryan's wife and daughter and instead tried to distance the IRA from the attack, so Ryan threatens to bring the press into his daughter's hospital room and squarely blame the IRA for the attack, heavily damaging the group's reputation among Irish Americans who are sympathetic to the IRA.
  • War Is Hell: During the camp attack scene, the CIA personnel watch the battle on a live satellite video feed. Jack watches as some of the CIA personnel callously comment on the battle as if they were watching a football game. As the battle draws to an end, Jack dwells on the infra-red image of a wounded defender crawling slowly away as the British soldiers make their withdrawal.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Sean Miller. In fact, he seems to take a perverse pride in it.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: "Sorry, Dennis" is all Dennis Cooley gets before Miller executes him.