- Complete Monster: In the novel, Sean Miller is the leader of an Irish terrorist group. The book begins with Miller leading an attack on the British Royal family. After being stopped, Miller goes after The Hero and CIA analyst Jack Ryan and his whole family, causing the car with Ryan's daughter Sally and pregnant wife Cathy to crash. With other various acts of terrorism to his name, one incident from Miller sticks out. When in prison, a guard saves him from Prison Rape from other inmates. During his escape, Miller has the guard at his mercy and chooses to shoot him in a way to paralyze him for life, viewing it worse than killing the man and declaring gratitude is a "disease of dogs," quoting Josef Stalin.
- Harsher in Hindsight:
- Hilarious in Hindsight: There's a scene in which Ryan and his colleagues at the CIA launch an attack on the terrorists' camp headquartered in Libya all while watching on a satellite feed. This is exactly how the Navy SEALs got Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011.
- Homegrown Hero: A CIA agent just happens to save the Prince of Wales' life?
- Idiot Ball: Annette, a member of the ULA who has striking long, red hair, uses the same disguise for each operation (glasses and a hat), which somewhat defeats the purpose of wearing a disguise and leads to Jack discovering who she is when he connects the dots between the London attack and the Annapolis ambush.
- Moral Event Horizon: If executing those defenseless officers on the bridge didn't do it for Miller, it certainly does it for O'Donnell. Miller's however definitely comes when he nearly murders Ryan's wife and daughter.
- Nightmare Fuel:
- The attack on the desert camp, shown only through infra-red satellite images is a bit unsettling; terrorists are shown being gunned down, one of them is seen crawling feebly away. Jack is visibly affected while everyone else is ho-hum about it. James Horner's recycled score from Aliens adds to the tension.
- Miller and O'Donnell's execution of Dennis Cooley; it's deeply unsettling how casually and how silently O'Donnell allows Miller to pull the trigger on the unarmed man who had until now been nothing but loyal to their cause.
- Miller's attack on Ryan's family on the freeway.
- The Final Battle at the Ryan household, set in Dramatic Thunder and Miller going beyond Ax-Crazy, even going as far as to kill his own allies just to get at Ryan. Also his gruesome death at being impaled on a boat anchor and incinerated in a boat explosion.
- One-Scene Wonder: Jimmy Reardon, the sleazy IRA commander who backstabs O'Donnell and pays the price for it, makes the most out of his two scenes.
- Retroactive Recognition:
- Tear Jerker:
- The death of Miller's younger brother, who was all of sixteen when he was shot and killed in his first mission for the IRA; while it makes him no less a monster, it's easy to see how much this came to push Miller over the edge.
- Miller's attack on Ryan's wife and daughter, an attack that nearly killed both and forced Sally to undergo emergency surgery to remove her spleen. Any parent would've taken it just as badly as Ryan did.
- Miller's and O'Donnell's execution of Inspector Highland and his bodyguards. In his final moments they chastise him for having "betrayed" his countrymen, with Highland insisting they just finish the deed and "be on their way", accepting his fate. When Lord Holmes is talking with his staff afterwards, it's mentioned that the Inspector left behind a wife and children when he was killed.
- Unintentional Period Piece:
- The Troubles largely ended after the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
- One scene hinges on the Ryans communicating by car phone, which was a pretty high-end item in 1990.
- On a meta level, Sean Bean's noodle arms, highlighted by a series of ill-fitting t-shirts, would only be acceptable in a big-budget movie prior to the 2000s, when physical training became a staple for actors playing heavies.
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