Patriot Games Movie Poster Image

Patriot Games



Spy thriller mixes nonstop violence with pro-family message.
  • Review Date: May 20, 2014
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1992
  • Running Time: 117 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


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. 


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."


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."

Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

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.

Families can talk 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? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:June 5, 1992
DVD release date:December 15, 1998
Cast:Harrison Ford, Anne Archer, Thora Birch, Sean Bean, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones
Director:Phillip Noyce
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Topics:Book characters
Run time:117 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:Rated R for strong sexuality, and for language and violence.

This review of Patriot Games was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Ford makes farfetched action-hero-prez electable.
  • One of the better Bonds; lots of cartoonish violence.
  • Heart-pounding thriller with great acting.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 16 years old Written byMichael Fraraccio December 10, 2014

"I will destroy you!"

Based on the novel of the same name by Tom Clancy, Patriot Games is the second in a series of movies about CIA analyst Jack Ryan. So how does it hold up? On to the review, please. Harrison Ford plays Jack Ryan who is on vacation with his family in London. He's retired from the CIA, and is a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. They witness an attack on Lord William Holmes. Ryan intervenes and is injured, but he kills one of the assailants, Patrick Miller, while his older brother Sean (Sean Bean) looks on. The remaining attackers flee and leave Miller to be apprehended by the police. While recovering, Ryan is called to testify in court against Miller. Ryan is awarded an honorary knighthood and eventually returns to the United States. While being transferred to prison, Miller's escort convoy is ambushed by his comrades, including Kevin O'Donnell (Patrick Bergin), who kills the police officers, and plans an escape. Miller and his companions flee to Northern Africa to plan their next attempt to kidnap Lord Holmes. Miller however, cannot shake his anger towards Ryan for killing his brother and persuades several members of the group to accompany him to the U.S. to murder Ryan and his family. Ryan survives an assassination attempt outside the U.S. Naval Academy. Later, Miller and a henchman attack Ryan's wife Cathy (Anne Archer) and daughter Sally (Thora Birch) on a busy highway. Her car crashes into a concrete divider severely injuring them both. Enraged over the attack on his family, Ryan decides to go back to work for the CIA, having previously rejected the appeal of his former superior, Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones). Perfectly acted, perfectly scripted, and perfectly directed, with perfect special effects, Patriot Games is, without a doubt, the best Jack Ryan movie. Harrison Ford gives a flawless performance as Ryan who's willing to do anything to save his wife and child. Anne Archer also gives a flawless performance as Cathy. Thora Birch does well as Sally. They act just as if they were a real family. Sean Bean gives Miller an air of evil and menace, making him easy to dislike. Everybody turns in flawless performances. W. Peter Iliff and Donald Stewart give Patriot Games a great script. Phillip Noyce directs flawlessly, and never slacks on the pace. The few special effects that show up are flawless. Patriot Games is the best Jack Ryan movie. It never drags and holds you until the credits roll.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 17 years old Written byCamoFanatic123 August 11, 2016
Teen, 14 years old Written byJoker912 September 18, 2016


Not the best of the series, but not the worst. That's just me, though, because I read the book first.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?