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John Rambo And Jack Ryan: Men America Can Count On?

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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 POW's, 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 90's.

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 Ryan's enemies were able to arrange such an enormous cover-up involving the Colombian drug cartels, shouldn't 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



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