By Tracy Moore,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Spy thriller mixes nonstop violence with pro-family message.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Patriot Games offers positive messages about family, loyalty, sacrifice, and the risks we take for those we love.
Positive Role Models
Though characters are painted in very broad strokes as either good or bad, parents are shown as extremely engaged and caring, and many adults are shown as respectable, committed, patriotic people. Even when characters are bad, they're often shown as acting out of loyalty to loved ones or for love of country.
Violence & Scariness
The film contains numerous scenes of graphic, often bloody violence, several of which involve the injury or peril of a child, and some three dozen deaths are shown explicitly. Several people are shot in the head, or otherwise at close range, with numerous bodies shown being shot full of bullets and bleeding profusely. Many scenes involve the brandishing of assault rifles. There are fistfights and shoot-outs between governments and terrorist groups. In one scene, a team of government agents is shown watching the killing of a terrorist training group by satellite. There also are numerous explosions and bombings of buildings, cars, and a boat. In one particularly graphic scene, a pregnant mother and child are shot at while they're driving and then shown crashing into a guard rail, with subsequent scenes of them in the hospital in unknown conditions. In another, a man is impaled. There also are a few high-speed car or boat chases that involve frequent firing of assault weapons, sometimes ending in crashes and explosions.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The movie has no nudity but has one sexually suggestive scene wherein a woman in lingerie licks a man in only underwear up and down his chest while they're in bed. They roll on the bed briefly. In another scene, a man and woman kiss while in bed, with her in modest lingerie and he in a shirt and boxer shorts. A couple kiss briefly in a car. While monitoring a satellite feed to identify a terrorist, a man zooms in a woman's chest (in a tank top) and says, "T-ts."
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Explicit profanity such as "f--k" or "f--k the bloody IRA" is used occasionally. Elsewhere, milder profanity and harsh, threatening language is used, from expressions such as "Jesus" or "bastard" to threats of "slit his throat" or "I will f--king destroy you" or "put a bullet in his head."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Very casual smoking is shown in multiple scenes such as work settings, bars, or at home. In a handful of scenes, adults drink wine or champagne to celebrate. In one scene, men drink at a bar. No one is shown drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Patriot Games is a spy thriller adapted from the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, and it's the sequel to The Hunt for Red October with different lead actors. It contains numerous scenes of violence and bloodshed, dozens of deaths, high peril, and frequent use of weapons, particularly assault rifles. It depicts multiple scenes of a pregnant mother and her child put in grave danger, including their injury and near-death. Language is an issue: Explicit profanity, such as "f--k," appears. Elsewhere, milder profanity and harsh, threatening language is used, from expressions such as "Jesus" and "bastard" to threats of "slit his throat" or "put a bullet in his head." There are several suggestive scenes but no nudity.
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What's the Story?
Former CIA man Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) stumbles onto a British royal's assassination plot, unwittingly making his wife Cathy (Anne Archer) and daughter Sally (Thora Birch) the target of a violent faction of IRA terrorists led by the vindictive Sean Miller (Sean Bean). Can he protect his family as a civilian, or will the threat of danger lure him back into CIA life?
Is It Any Good?
For anyone who lived through the '90s, PATRIOT GAMES is an engaging, high-action, violent reminder of the fading memory of IRA bombings and terrorist plots, of America in the post-Cold War era. It also reminds us why Harrison Ford's mix of fluster and bravado made him so good at playing a family man in pretty much anything. Here, family values move to the fore as his raison d'être for sticking it to the terrorists, but, for a family movie, it's heavy on violence and probably requires some working knowledge of the aforementioned political landscape to follow. It also has tough scenes for parents, including a pregnant mother and child in a graphic car crash, some worrisome hospital scenes, and multiple scenes with a child under attack or a mom and daughter receiving death threats.
But for parents who love a good Tom Clancy novel or anything with Ford, it's an absorbing work that happens to eerily foreshadow some of today's drone technology and remote political warfare tactics. For mature teens who like historical political/spy thrillers, it can bring up some really interesting discussions about how we portray violence used to justify American patriotism versus the same violence when used to denounce any other country's nationalist fervor. Side note: With a surgeon for a wife and a daughter who crushes it at Monopoly and even a female terrorist plotting alongside the men, it is a rare bit of gender parity amid the bloodshed.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how films glamorize the role of CIA agents and spies. Do you think real-life spies really live this way? What seems untrue about the way the film portrays government work?
How does the film show us different types of family loyalty and how they play out? Is one kind better or worse?
How does patriotism factor in to which acts of violence in the film is shown as justified and which are shown as terrorism?
- In theaters: June 5, 1992
- On DVD or streaming: August 17, 2010
- Cast: Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Thora Birch, Sean Bean, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones
- Director: Phillip Noyce
- Inclusion Information: Black actors, Indigenous actors
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: Rated R for strong sexuality, and for language and violence.
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
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