The Sum of all Fears
Dir: Phil Alden Robinson
Star: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber
Cert / Year: 12 - PG13 / 2002
Format: DVD R1

In 1973 and Israeli plane is shot down while carrying a nuclear bomb. Many years later it is recovered and sold to a shadowy European agent. Meanwhile in Russia the premier dies and is replaced by a new man few people in Washington know much about. Few people know that is except researcher Jack Ryan (now Ben Affleck). He uncovers a plot by Russian scientists to recommission the bomb and use it against the US. Does the new Russian premier know of this plot, can he stop the bomb in time, or is the world on a path to nuclear war?

From this film we can learn two things: One that Jack Ryan appears to be a Timelord like Dr Who, and two that the film scriptwriters desperately needs some new material. Ryan a Timelord? Oh yes as he has now regenerated twice. His first regeneration was from the adequate Alec Baldwin seen in Hunt for Red October to the excellent Harrison Ford seen in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Now with Ford beginning to look his age it is time to regenerate again, so enter flavour of the month Ben Affleck to give Ryan that more youthful look. But wait he has also time travelled, this appears to be a prequel to Hunt for Red October yet politically it is set well after. Confused? You will be, as it seems that all forms of continuity within this licence seem to have been jettisoned.

Leaving the continuity alone (which is what the studio should have done) the other big failing of this film is its predictability. If you have seen the previous Jack Ryan movies you will know what to expect. Ryan has some information that lands him out of his depth with his superiors (who as always don't believe him). He then reluctantly goes into the field uncovers a plot that will threaten world peace, and it all comes down to the information that he had in the first place. Yep it's all of this again, only this time the threat is a nuclear countdown (no prises for guessing when this stops). Sorry to have to tell you but this plot is both unoriginal and highly predictable.

But wait, there are plus points. The whole affair is shot with a high degree of slickness and this helps keep the plot on course. The story, while predictable, is enjoyable and the script is well written. Both of these help to keep a potentially confusing film moving along and ensure things are easy to follow. The effects are good, and the level of realism is impressive (with the exception of the after effects of a nuclear explosion that seems to have been massively trivialised). The only point at which the proceedings falter is when Ryan is wandering aimlessly round devastated Baltimore, but apart from this the pacing is good.

Another plus point is the cast. The star of the show is CIA field operative John Clark played by Liev Schreiberv. This is a great character (dark and deadly) and eclipses Ryan in every scene they are in together. So what about Ben Affleck then? Well he is ok, but he isn't a patch on Harrison Ford. He never appears forceful enough to stand up to the more experienced actors. Having said that it is never a chore watching acting heavyweights like Morgan Freeman (especially good) and James Cromwell. However the one major let down is Bridget Moynahan who is totally uninvolving, and to be honest very poor.

Sum of all fears is not a bad film, its just compared to the other Jack Ryan films it is a bit of a disappointment. The plot is way too formulaic, and unnecessary changes to the lead role have not helped the things at all. The concept of nuclear terrorism is good idea for a film, but here the failure to show the true horrific after effects really detracts from the movie. It is an enjoyable way to pass time, but it isn't really worth hunting this one down. It may not be the sum of all my Fears and it certainly isn't the sum of all my hopes.


27,000 Nuclear Weapons. One Is Missing.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Do you know what, yep its good.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 High on talking but powerful ehen called upon
Features Director Audio Commentary
Writer Tom Clancy and Director Audio Commentary
Making of documentary
Creating Reality: The Visual Effects documentary
Verdict A good disc that is rather short on extras for such a big budget release.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Link Back Top Home