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Spy Games

Tom Clancy and Harrison Ford take aim at the War On Drugs

Then the movie catches up to the secret army in Colombia, becoming a post-Platoon guerrilla war movie; Willem Dafoe wanders in from a movie about a spy whose time has come and gone. His character then joins forces with Ryan and serves up five minutes or so of buddy movie. Finally, there's a mini-jailbreak movie and a short caper movie, capped by a courtroom drama. And I'm leaving out half of the movies here.

None of this makes any real-world sense, but the movie remains engaging, largely because, as Umberto Eco once wrote about the magical effect of Casablanca, its genres are packed together so tightly that they finally begin to talk to each other. Clear and Present Danger doesn't speak with anything like Casablanca's transcendence, of course. It's more of a blue-collar bull session, with one particularly odd note. The head villain here is played by Brazilian actor Joaquim de Almeida, who looks exactly like a Latin version of Saturday Night Lives Phil Hartman. I found myself laughing every time he pretended to be "sincere." That seems like a particularly apt reaction to this movie.

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