John Rambo and Jack Ryan are two amazing men. They are honest, trustworthy, heroic, never crack under pressure, and stand for truth, justice, and the American way. Sylvester Stallone and Harrison Ford do their best attempting to make the audience believe that men such as Rambo and Ryan actually exist. Try as they might, not even Stallone or Ford can convince me that men of this caliber actually live. Rambo is able to not only foil his corrupt, superior American officer trying to sabotage his mission, but eliminate an entire army of Vietnamese and Russian soldiers, and save a handful of POWs.
Jack Ryan defies the entire government and the largest Colombian drug cartel because he stands for the truth. Sorry, but I am not buying it. An interesting aspect of the two films, Rambo / First Blood Part II (George P. Cosmatos, 1985) and Clear and Present Danger (Phillip Noyce, 1994) is the differences the two men display, despite the fact that what they represent is extremely similar. John Rambo is more of a renegade, a decorated soldier of the Vietnam “conflict,” with only his mentor Colonel Trautman at his side.
He was jailed for blowing up a small town in Oregon (a detail from the first film). The mindless, fickle public would then overlook all of the great things he did in the war because he blew up an “innocent town. ” On the other hand, Jack Ryan is an important member of the CIA, a very noble position to hold. It is also revealed in the film that Jack Ryan is a very noble man, not violent unless absolutely forced to be. Little could change society’s view of him. Within their own films, Rambo and Jack Ryan are the only men capable of “saving” America from the evils that plague it.
The difference is that Rambo is looked at as a violent killing machine, whereas Jack Ryan is seen as a man who will do only what is necessary to “do the right thing. ” In a simple plot comparison, Danger seems much more in-depth and intelligent than Rambo. Rambo is sent to get pictures of POWs, and must not engage the enemy in combat. Jack Ryan has to uncover the scandal, and the twists and turns that are ahead, with many characters being introduced over many locations.
However, upon closer inspection, it appears that Danger is only hiding under a lot of technical jargon and piles upon piles of details. Rambo is short and to the point: there is one good man who can clean up the messes that America makes. Danger presents the same message, but wants to appear as a more serious, smart film. Danger is able to succeed in this respect, because Harrison Ford sounds much more intelligent than Sylvester Stallone. The key word, however, is appears, because that is all that Danger accomplishes, to appear as more intelligent than films such as Rambo.
Upon closer inspection, it is revealed that Clear and Present Danger is no more than a Rambo for the 90s. Despite their differences, Rambo / First Blood Part II and Clear and Present Danger possess several similar themes. Neither Rambo nor Jack Ryan trusts their superiors, for good reasons. Rambo discovers that the man who sent him on his POW recovery mission, Murdock, never wanted the mission to succeed, and goes to great lengths to prevent that from occurring.
Jack Ryan is appointed CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence, and soon discovers a massive scandal that even goes above the President. As a side note, if Jack Ryans enemies were able to arrange such an enormous cover-up involving the Colombian drug cartels, shouldnt they be able to stop a man like Jack Ryan from becoming the Deputy Director of Intelligence for the CIA. The essential similarity in both of these films is the emotion the director wants to get out of the audience: empowerment.
Phillip Noyce and George P. Cosmatos attempt to push the audience into believing that there are Rambos and Jack Ryans out there who could save us all from the evils of the world. This notion is supposed to make us feel that everything is all right, corruption will be stopped, and good will triumph over evil. Apparently the directors want the audience to feel empowered by these super-men who are able to save the free world without breaking a sweat. I can not figure out why this would make anyone feel empowered.
If I produced any emotion during either of these films, it was a feeling of self-worthlessness. Honestly, how could a rather short, cowardly guy like myself, compare to someone like John Rambo or Jack Ryan? They make me and every other average American look like a total schmuck because they have accomplished much more than I ever will in my lifetime. I do not feel empowered by that, I feel rather bitter. They are stronger, smarter, better looking, and more females will fawn over them instead of me.
In fact, I dont feel empowered at all; I hate men like John Rambo and Jack Ryan! George P. Cosmatos and Phillip Noyce try very hard to make the audience feel that everything within the cozy borders of the United States is all right. They also try to fool the audience into believing that any one of them could become a Rambo or Jack Ryan, thereby inflating the audience’s egos, making them think that they could destroy the entire corrupt system. Unfortunately, they fail, terribly.
I would suggest to these two men to take lessons on how to empower an audience from Zack de la Rocha, lead singer of the Los Angeles based metal band, Rage Against the Machine. Rage’s anti-government lyrics and innovative guitar riffs inspire empowerment that few films have come close to matching. Zack de la Rocha writes very intelligent material, which is far from the clichd repetitiveness of Rambo or Clear and Present Danger. Both Rambo / First Blood Part II and Clear and Present Danger were immensely popular with audiences, grossing millions and millions of dollars.
Americans seemed to buy into what directors George P. Cosmatos and Phillip Noyce were trying to do: show us at there is indeed “one good man,” and instill a sense of empowerment among the American population. On the surface, both films do an excellent job of doing that; yet a majority of filmgoers do not bother to look beneath the surface. But to look beneath the surface of both Rambo / First Blood Part II and Clear and Present Danger will reveal a pathetic attempt at patriotism, empowerment, and hope that our corrupt government can indeed by stopped.