– Summary –
Director : Phil Alden Robinson
Year Of Release : 2002
Principal Cast : Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Bridget Moynahan, Liev Schreiber, Michael Byrne, Colm Feore, Alan Bates, Ciaran Hinds, Bruce McGill, Philip Baker Hall, Richard Marner.
Approx Running Time : 124 Minutes
Synopsis: CIA analyst Jack Ryan tries to locate the whereabouts of a recently discovered unexploded bomb, which leads him to uncover a plan to explode a nuclear device somewhere within the United States.
What we think : Gripping, absorbing techno-thriller from the Tom Clancy franchise, with Affleck doing his best to give the Jack Ryan character some of his own nuance. Generally, he does a great job, and Sum Of All Fears is a better film for it.
The Jack Ryan series has been a reasonably consistent money earner for Hollywood. The original film, Hunt For Red October, whilst full of inaccuracies, was a blockbuster in every sense, and the followup films, Patriot Games and Clear & Present Danger are among the great action thrillers of the 90’s. So it was with a certain level of anxiety that I initially approached the Ben Affleck starrer The Sum Of All Fears, which essentially rebooted the franchise and allowed the viewer to witness an early Ryan victory.
Set in modern times, and subsequently creating a kind of alternate Jack Ryan universe from the original films, Affleck and Morgan Freeman set about trying to stop the inserting of a nuclear weapon onto American soil: with your typical stoic chest beating and US is great speechifying, our hero and his counterparts try desperately to stop nuclear holocaust.
The Sum Of All Fears, as well as being a bugger to type over and again, is a sturdy and solid action/thriller film, with little to say negatively about the entire thing. The script is solid, Affleck never gets a chance to overact, and Freeman appears to be bored by the whole thing, his performance is as close to sleepwalking as has ever been captured on film: he still makes the role of superior CIA chief his own.
Of course, things go wrong, and the bad guys up the ante. In a kind of harkening to 9/11, and the terrible events of that day, America suffers a substantial terrorist attack on it’s own soil. It’s the reaction of the government in this film that makes one sit uncomfortably through the final act, as it is almost a direct parallel to the real life events following September 11. Confusion and illogical decisions abound, and it’s staggering to see just how easily it can all go pear-shaped.
Thankfully, though, Jack Ryan can be relied on to thwart the best efforts of the bad guys. Affleck plays it straight, obviously borrowing from the characterizations of the character by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, yet somehow making the role his own. Sometimes he makes leaps in logic that confound the most astute viewer, yet it all seems quite realistic and easy to believe at the time.
The Sum Of All Fears is a frightening indictment of terrorism, especially in light of 9/11, the product of which makes the “fear” in this film all that much more real.