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This is one of these films that you may have seen but don't quite remember the plot and when you are half way through think hang on a minute I know what's going to happen here. Or at least I did. The film centres around a nuclear threat in today's America giving an unnerving feeling with the movie. It follows government officials who are trying to control this threat from Russia following the appointment of a new president. But all is not what it seems and there are other groups determined to pin the blame on Russia and so start a new war of the continents. The film is designed on the what if scenario and taps into the fears of a nuclear threat that are more real everyday. The film opens with the president being asked to give the go ahead for a nuclear assault and as the tension mounts you can feel the pressure in the room. After the strong opening things lighten up with Ben Affleck and his girlfriend to bring in a human touch to what would be a dull politicial movie. To say all that happens here would perhaps spoil the film. Lets just say you feel for the girlfriend of Ben Affleck as he is sent on a mission and stands her up. The scene where Ben Affleck is told to tell her he works for the CIA is very humourous. Lieve Schrieber pops up a few times as well as the deadly spy on the front line and as the plot unfolds there are a few red herrings flung in for good measure. As you'd expcect Morgan Freeman turns out an excellent performance, though Ben Affleck is not always convinving. Perhaps this is because of the stereotype form films such as Dogma and the other mildly amusing roles he has played. Still you do feel for him and his girlfriend as he is embroiled in a world that he knows nothing about. All in it's a good movie with a strong cast. James Cromwell as the president shines up there with Morgan both as a leader and as the frightened mouse when the horrors kick off. There is one scene that I remembered as it happened that I thought was from a different movie and it is frightening how simple the attack is made to look. I certainly won't look at a vending machine the same way again. But then that is the whole movie........the sum of all fears is the unknown
In such troubled times, as those in which we currently live, the plot of The Sum of All Fears will probably make a few people uncomfortable. Extreme warfare and terrorism on a grand scale seem to have become an ever-present threat these days, and this movie portrays the story of one such terrorist incident. In the 1970s an American fighter jet is shot down over the Egyptian desert and is buried beneath the sand, along with its cargo of one nuclear missile. Decades later, the missile is discovered and sold on the black market to a cartel of world terrorists. Meanwhile, Russia has been plunged into a state of diplomatic chaos by the death of the president and his apparently unstable replacement. Relations between the USA and Russia become stretched when the two powers meet and clash over the way in which the Russian government is handling the rogue state of Chechnya. A young CIA analyst, Jack Ryan, is attached to a weapons inspection unit, headed by William Cabot (played superbly by Morgan Freeman), who is the CIA head of intelligence and the pair escorts an inspection team to Russia. Whilst visiting a Russian missile factory, Ryan notes that three of the scientists listed as working in the unit are not present and he is advised that they are either dead, ill or on leave. Intelligence from within the Kremlin advises that this is not the case, and Cabot immediately sets Ryan the task of identifying what has happened to the three missing scientists. Each of the scientists possesses a different weapon making skill, but together they have the combined intelligence to make a bomb and it transpires that this is exactly what they have been tasked to do. Working undercover, Ryan soon realises that the scale of the plot is much larger than he originally fears. Terrorists have obtained a nuclear device and he is horrified to discover that they plan to detonate it in a major US city. But he may have realised this too late for the occupants of Baltimore, USA In a post-911 climate, filmmakers now find themselves burdened with moral and technical obligations in their dealings with fiction based around terrorism. Writers and directors now need to consider the origins, motives and fate of their adversaries more carefully as the end of the Cold War has led to a world with more diverse (and dangerous) adversaries. In 2002, just one year after the Twin Towers fell; The Sum of All Fears was released to a nervous audience. Some changes were made from the source material (the original novel told a story of Islamic extremists whereas the film feature Neo-Nazis) but the outcome was largely the same a nuclear terrorist attack on US soil. The end result is not entirely successful. In fact, its a bit of a flop. The Sum of All Fears is inconsistent, unbelievable and disappointing. It doesnt help that its part of a previously successful franchise (The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games & Clear and Present Danger) and that the lead (Ryan) has a new face. The film is inconsistent in that it seems to think that the audience has no prior knowledge of the leading character. You may recall Jack Ryan from the films Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, when Harrison Ford capably portrayed him. However, in The Sum of All Fears, Ryan seems to have grown remarkably younger, and is now played by the youthful (and poorly cast) Ben Affleck. Whereas Ford exuded confidence, experience and integrity, Affleck is simply there to please the eye and is completely unbelievable as a figure that provides support to the American president. Jack Ryans wife and home also seem to have disappeared into the ether, and instead he is given a glamorous young girl friend to provide him with a romantic interest. Whilst each of the three films should rightfully stand in its own right, Clancys character seems to have been clumsily handled to me and Affleck is just wrong for the part. The Sum of All Fears struck me as being highly unbelievable. Whilst my experience of presidential policy and process is limited (i.e. I have none) I simply cannot expect that these events would be handled in such a way. It wont really spoil anything for you to let you know that the terrorists succeed in their plane to bomb Baltimore, and what follows bears more similarity to a play ground squabble than a group of important leaders. The President himself comes out with all sorts of helpful lines such as, Dont give me that god-damned nonsense. These people just tried to f***ing kill me! and generally bawls at the rest of his top team like some angry teenager. We have the usual clichéd blend of war-mongerers and pacifists sat around the table, identically replicated in their Russian counterparts, and you soon find yourself thinking that youve wandered into a 1980s cold war James Bond movie. There is nothing measured or intelligent about the story and it felt very amateurish to me. This film is also disappointing in that it promises much and delivers hardly anything. Whilst I can appreciate the directors intention to refrain from turning the film into a disaster movie, the scenes depicting the moment and aftermath of the nuclear detonation are incredibly dull. I was really expecting something dramatic and striking, possibly not unlike the first strike scenes of Independence Day. Instead, we got a few simple aerial shots and then lots of distant mushroom cloud moments. To include such an explosion in a film is quite momentous and I really did expect more than this. The initial intricacies of the plot are also disappointingly played out. The way in which both sides are so easily manipulated is frankly rather frightening, and whilst Im not naïve enough to say that there is no way that could ever happen, The Sum of All Fears suggests that orchestrating a world war is largely very simple. Some scenes are also very silly and could have come straight out of a comic book. When will reluctant villains realise that you never get up and walk out on the bad guy? With hindsight, The Sum of All Fears fails because it doesnt properly capitalise on a single key element of the story. The delicacy of the espionage is quickly replaced by gung-ho military action and any subtlety is quickly lost. There is no attempt to try and portray an insight into how such a terrorist attack would be handled or if there is then I would suggest you kiss your ass goodbye right now. All the usual silly irritations are there though. Needless to say, Ryans new girlfriend works in a hospital so she gets to tend all the wounded and play little miss heroine all on her own. Its all so boring, random and unoriginal. I can happily watch a film that requires suspension of belief, but Id rather not watch a film that is an insult to my intelligence. Not recommended
Neo-fascist terrorists build a nuclear bomb and take it to Baltimore where it is detonated during Superbowl. Reason for this is to start a nuclear war between Russia and USA. Americans think Russians did it. A full scale nuclear war is about to happen. Only one man can stop it. Jack Ryan is CIA man and he knows the truth. Sum of all fears was made before the attacks on America. Originally in the book the terrorists were Muslims. In the film it is changed to Nazis because Muslims terrorists were not a threat in the mind of American public when the film was made. I recommend this film. You don't know what is going to happen after the bomb goes off. Russians and Americans are getting their nuclear weapons ready for war. Ben Affleck is good in the role. I remember Harrison Ford played same character in the other films. Better film than James Bond. Only thing both have in common is the main character works for spooks.
~ ~ Author Tom Clancy appears to have lost the plot these days when it comes to writing good, exciting thrillers. The last two books of his that I read, ?The Bear and the Dragon? and ?Red Rabbit? were so slow and boring they bordered on being soporific. But his back catalogue is still terrific, and many of his novels have been turned into taut, exciting movies; ?The Hunt For Red October?, ?Patriot Games?, and ?Clear and Present Danger? being three of my own particular favourites. I now have another that I can add to that list. The latest Clancy novel to get the treatment from the Hollywood moguls is ?The Sum of all Fears? (2002). I thoroughly enjoyed the novel, and equally enjoyed the film version. ~ ~ I was going to say that the plot is relatively simple, but you can?t really say that about anything that Tom Clancy has a hand in producing. But the producers and director Phil Alden Robinson (Sneakers, 1992; Field of Dreams; 1989) have made a good hand at making the movie relatively simple to follow. The plot is about terrorism, or more specifically about nuclear terrorism. An international group of disaffected right wing Nazis decide the time is ripe to trigger a war between the USA and Russia, hoping that they will be able to step into the political void it will create. (Some void!) They manage to get their hands on an old Israeli nuclear weapon that was lost in the desert in a plane crash during the Arab/Israeli war of the early 1970?s. A secret laboratory is set up in the Ukraine, and nuclear experts from the old Soviet Union are bribed and cajoled into making a new portable weapon using the plutonium from the old device. Their plan is to smuggle the weapon into the USA and detonate it at a Superbowl ga me, thus hopefully setting off a nuclear exchange between the two superpowers. ~ ~ Enter the two stars of the show, a very young Jack Ryan, played perfectly by Ben Affleck, and the superb Morgan Freeman as William Cabot, the Director of Intelligence of the CIA. Ryan has been seconded to the CIA as an analyst, following the rise to power of a relatively unknown politician, Alexander Nemerov, (Ciaran Hinds) to the post of President of Russia. America become suspicious of Nemerov when biological weapons are used against rebels in Chechnya, and they discover the existence of the base in the Ukraine that the right wing terrorists are using to produce the ?suitcase? nuclear bomb. In fact, disaffected Russian generals carried out the biological attack in Chechnya, but Ryan and Cabot seem to be the only ones on the American side inclined to believe this. ~ ~ When the nuke is detonated at the Superbowl in Baltimore, killing Cabot and almost killing US President Bob Fowler, (James Cromwell) things quickly reach boiling point, until a full scale nuclear exchange (Armageddon?) seems to be almost inevitable. (Don?t worry, I haven?t given away the whole plot, as you?re told this much in the film?s trailer!) Only Jack Ryan (who survives the nuclear blast) has discovered the whole truth, and a race against time ensues to save the world from disaster. ~ ~ I thoroughly enjoyed this tense, taut thriller, despite the fact that I was initially very dubious when I discovered that the role of Jack Ryan was being taken over by Ben Affleck. Ford had almost made the role his own, in the same way as Sean Connery had become almost the definitive James Bond, and I simply couldn?t visualise the part being played succe ssfully by any other actor. Likewise, there was no Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) in this movie, as Jack Ryan?s friend and mentor in the CIA, the role being taken over by Morgan Freeman as Bill Cabot. But the change of actors actually works very well, probably due to this movie being a prequel to later ?Jack Ryan? movies, and can easily be watched and enjoyed even if you haven?t watched any of the other films. In fact, Affleck is the third actor to play the role of Jack Ryan, actor Alec Baldwin having played the part in the very first Clancy movie, ?The Hunt For Red October?. ~ ~ A wee bit of interesting trivia for you. The plot of the book and the movie are actually different in one major area. In the original Clancy novel, the nuclear attack is planned and implemented by Arab terrorists. Originally, the film plot was the same, and the movie was due to release in cinemas about October 2001. But after the real life terrorist attacks of 9/11, it was felt that the film was ?too close to the bone?, and as a consequence would suffer at the box office. So the release was delayed to allow the producers to edit out the Arabs, and replace them with right wing fascists. In my opinion, the movie suffers somewhat as a result, as an Arab terrorist attack of this magnitude is a far more believable scenario than one by an international Nazi group. The plot also scared the bejaysus out of me, as it?s actually something I have personally feared will happen for a long time now. A case of ?when? and not ?if?, if you get my drift. ~ ~ I purchased the DVD version of the film at HMV just before Christmas 2003 for ?14.99, and it is now available at Amazon for £9.99 and at Sendit (Blackstar) for £9.97. Somewhat strangely, t he VHS version is more expensive at Amazon at £13.49. If you do buy the DVD, and happen to have a home cinema sound system, (as I do) then you?re in for a real treat, as this movie really gives all your speakers a thorough workout. You can also watch a couple of documentary features by the author Tom Clancy and the director Phil Alden Robinson. Clancy is fairly interesting, especially his opening remark. ?I'm Tom Clancy?I wrote the book that they ignored.? ~ ~ A good, exciting, tense, taut thriller, even if it will never be Oscar material. Highly recommended by the mad cabbie for those of you who enjoy this genre. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ PS. It's currently doing the rounds on Sky Movies, for those of you who have digital or cable connections. ~~~~~~~~~~~~ © KenJ 2004 ~~~~~~~~~~~~
This must rate as one of the most ridiculous films my wife and I have ever watched. As usual with US blockbusters that are designed for mass consumption, it started well enough and then descended into complete farce. Following the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Baltimore, the near fried president spends a few hours flying around in Air Force One with his macho advisors gradually ramping up strikes on wrongly accussed Russia. All of this whilst a CIA agent (Ben Affleck) is unable (for no apparent reason) to get through to the plane and tell Mr.Macho (godammit) that it was US plutonium (via Israel - irony hmmm?). Morgan Freeman must be glad he died before this point. Cue overzealous, crude, triumphalist, exploding slomo screenplay as Affleck attempts to track down the perpatrators who are conveniently hanging out at the docks (scene of crime). After September 11th, American film studios should be ashamed of producing such utter pictorial idiocy and we should all be ashamed to buy it. It was only the (probable) unnoticed underlying irony that provided any education or entertainment. Swaggering US machismo of the worst human kind.
In this film Ben Affleck takes on the role of Jack Ryan a character created by Tom Clancy, previously played by Harrison Ford in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. Although with this film they have gone back to one of the first Tom Clancy novels to bring to live The Sum of All Fears. The film starts in the 1970's with Egypt and Syria launching a surprise attack on Israel. While patrolling one of the planes is shot down with a nuclear bomb on board, which lands in a trench unexploded setting the scene for the movie. Fast forward to the present and the bomb is discovered by a rather dodgy looking guy digging graves in the desert who comes back at night with his father and a truck to extract the bomb so they can sell it. Meanwhile the president of Russia, being played by the Cornell from Allo Allo, dies of a heart attack. He is replaced by President Nemerov, whose main aim is to restore the glory days of the Russian Empire. The bomb however has been obtained by the Neo-Nazi’s who plan to kick off a war between the Russian’s and the US. The target being Baltimore and that great sporting occasion: The Super Bowl. After the bomb is detonated Ryan has a race against time to convince the President’s of the US that it wasn’t the Russians who planted the bomb. Anyway that's enough of the plot suitably given away. If you are dubious of the acting abilities of Affleck this film should more than convince you that the boy is actually quite good. Probably one of his finer performances since the early Kevin Smith film "Chasing Amy". Of course as with all Affleck films though there's always a girl around somewhere to cry for him when things are looking bad and for him to fool around with at some point. The love scenes are a little dire and not really that important to the story. This film also stars Morgan Freeman who puts in a very polished performance as CIA Director William Cabot. Unfortunately he isn't really given enough screen time to make a huge impact on the film as he could have done. The film was originally made before the events of September 11th 2001 but the release was delayed as a mark of respect after the atrocities. Maybe the film was a little too realistic. But then again Clancy had predicted that a terror attack on the twin Towers in one of his previous books, although I'm not entirely sure which one it is. Of course little changes from the book were expected, however a major change is the terrorist were originally in Clancy’s book being Arab’s. However after the events mentioned above maybe the change was a good thing. Now I'm not a fan of Tom Clancy's Novels but Patriot Games and The Sum of All Fears I have enjoyed the films. If you’re looking for a Thriller/Action movie, which you don't need to think too much about then this is definitely the film for you. Of course you don't have to have read anything else by him or have seen any of the other films as these make excellent stand-alone films. So in my opinion this is definitely one to watch but maybe you should make up you're own mind. Advantages: * The Acting is very good. * A good stand alone film. * Great Camera Work Disadvantages: * Maybe a little too close to what might happen * The love story between Ryan and the Nurse. Cast: Ben Affleck: Jack Ryan Morgan Freeman: DCI William Cabot James Cromwell: President Fowler President Nemerov: Ciaran Hinds Running Time: 123 mins. Available now on Region One DVD from www.cd-wow.com for £13.99
Personally I've never seen any of the movies that feature the Jack Ryan character. So you have a strange line of actors who've payed the part starting with Alec Baldwin, then Harrison Ford and now Ben Affleck. Yep, you've guessed it. Age difference between the actors means the The Sum of All Fears is a re-invention of the character, he's going back to his roots. Partly because Affleck was interested in playing the role and probably because the potential for the almighty dollar was too great to resist. In the movie Ryan is a CIA Analyst with no real idea of what goes on behind the closed doors of power. When the Russian premier dies, Ryan is brought in by CIA director Bill Cabot (Morgan Freeman) to advise on the new premier, a man who sparks fear in the CIA. Soon Ryan is finding himself in a position he's not used to and it's proving difficult in his burgeoning relationship with the young Cathy Muller (Bridget Moynahan). Unknown to anybody there are terrorists who have brought a nuclear bomb into the US and detonate it during the Superbowl. Soon the americans are blaming the russians as a result of duff information and Ryan has to prevent an all out war between the two countries happening. This is a film that is well made, well scripted and well acted. The characters are good and there are some exciting moments. In the wake of 9/11 we have a scene that you may have read about, it's a terrorist attack that causes some mass destruction. To be honest this moment is very fleeting and not really the integral part of the film. This is more about the political wranglings that go on between countries. So we have the president and his advisors arguing the toss underground, behind closed doors and in the air. All the while I was wondering what it would take for one president simply to pick up the phone and talk to the other president. Instead it's all done on counter measures and intelligence information. If this kind of thing really does go on like this then I'm sure the world will be eventually done for. The acting is good across the board. Affleck isn't the greatest actor in the world but he does have charm. He does well in this role although perhaps a more rugged actor would have suited Ryan better. Morgan Freeman is his usual commanding self while the likes of James Cromwell, Phillip Baker Hall and Liev Schreiber fill out the supporting roles. It's a cast of actors who can actually act rather than just be a face. Phillip Alden Robsinson handles the film well with good action and a good sense of tension. The two hours just fly by and the film has a good style that isn't too flashy. The problem with the film is that at the end of the day it's nothing you haven't seen before from a film of this genre. Terrorists pose threat, americans debate and shout at each other, major event happens, Hero saves day just in time. For that reason alone this is an entertaining film but nothing more than that.
I got the job of doing a trailer check on The Sum of All Fears this weekend. Although this wouldn't have been my first choice to watch, I'm happy to watch most films. Director Phil Alden Robinson has received an Oscar nomination for his adaptation of Field of Dreams. He is also known for directing the first episode of Band of Brothers and directing and co-writing Sneakers. The producer, Mace Neufeld, has helped launch the careers of actors such as Kevin Costner and Alec Baldwin and author and Executive Producer Tom Clancy is well known for his other Jack Ryan best sellers which have also been made into films: The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger. The plot centres on what would happen if terrorists got hold of a nuclear bomb? Well in this scenario it is a group of Nazi sympathisers who have acquired one on the black market. Their plan is not to make the same mistakes as Hitler. So instead of trying to fight Russia and America they have come up with a plan to pitch them against each other, culminating in the nuclear bomb being set off in America's Baltimore football stadium. It's up to CIA agent Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) to figure out where the bomb came from and prevent war with Russia. With big names like Morgan Freeman and Ben Affleck in the film, you'd expect good acting and on the whole you wouldn?t be disappointed. My only criticism on that point is that I felt that James Cromwell somehow didn't fit the role as President Fowler (or maybe that's just because I keep picturing him as the farmer in Babe). Morgan Freeman as Jack Ryan's boss Bill Cabot adds a touch of humour now and again. Another interesting character was John Clark (Liev Schreiber) as former secret agent turned pen pusher, coerced back into active duty by Cabot. His job is to go undercover to find the three missing scientists who, as it happens, are working on the afore mentioned nuclear bomb. Alan Bates's role as the bad guy Richard Dressler is actually quite small; as is the role of Bridget Moynahan as Ryan's love interest. The storyline the movie took was quite complex, so I won't go into it in great detail as it would take too long. The scenes of interest for me were when the bomb exploded (it was something you knew was going to happen, but they still managed to surprise you with the timing of it) and when Ryan teams up with Clark to do a raid on the complex in which the scientists are working. The film itself is not particularly fast paced, but on saying that it's not exactly slow either. It has a 12 certificate, but I can't imagine someone so young wanting to sit through it. Although it isn't as long as The Lord of the Rings or Doctor Zhivago it's not a short film either. It could possibly have done with being a little shorter as it seems a bit stretched out in places. It doesn't end where you'd expect it to and I personally felt the ending scene was a tad unnecessary. THE CAST Jack Ryan - Ben Affleck (Pearl Harbour, Armageddon, Good Will Hunting) Bill Cabot - Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy) President Fowler - James Cromwell (Babe, The Green Mile) John Clark - Liev Schreiber (Hamlet, Scream I, II & III, Twighlight) Richard Dressler - Alan Bates (Hamlet, The Mothman Prophecies) President Nemerov - Ciaran Hinds (Circle of Friends, The Road to Perdition) Cathy Muller - Bridget Moynahan (Serendipity, Coyote Ugly) Website - http://www.sumofallfearsmovie.com/ On the whole I found the film enjoyable, but certainly not exciting or action packed. xx Caradawn xx
Ben Affleck is rookie CIA agent Jack Ryan. He knows a lot about the Russian government and even rightly predicts that the next Russian President will be Nemerov (Ciarán Hinds). When the new president steps in the American president (James Cromwell) and his advisors are worried about the new change in power because of Nemerov's reputation. DCI William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) one of the presidents close friends enlists Ryan to go to Russia with him to inspect the nuclear disarming plants. When they arrive they discover that three of the scientists are missing, the three who when combined can make a bomb. What Ryan and Cabot don't know is that neo nazis, Dressler (Alan Bates) has bought a nuclear bomb on the black market and is building a bomb that he will set off in America and start a war between Russia and America. Leaving his nazis followers to pick up the pieces. The bomb is planted in a Baltimore stadium, where the president is watching a football game. Luckily he is rushed out in time before the bomb goes off, killing millions of people and devastating the city. The president is keen to strike back against the Russians and is convinced that even though Nemerov is denying any connection with the bomb he is behind it. Jack knows this isn't the case and has to race against time before a war is started and both America and Russia are destroyed. I didn't think that this would be the kind of film for me because I don't really like these types of films. However I went to see it and was determined to give it a chance. What I got was a film that sets up a good story, but at a mind numbingly slow pace, then a massive explosion happens and then the rest of the film is overly fast and contrived. I admit that the story is good and quite relevant in today’s society. I explores the concept of what if, what if a nuclear bomb got into the hands of a madman, what if there was a nuclear explosion in America, what if America and Russia where at war. The film explores these questions very well. The story did loose it in the last half hour though there were plot holes(could someone really tear around a bomb site for an hour or so and not get ill?) and also very contrived. In the first half of the film mistakes are made by the characters and everything doesn't go to plan, however the last half hour is too perfect and everything seems to happen just in time you want to puke. Another bad element is a two dimensional love story between Ryan and a pretty nurse (Bridget Moynahan). It takes up too much screen time and is also very basic and seems like it is written by a child. Even though the plot is okay the first hour or so it moves to slow. The film itself is about 2 hours long but would have been a lot more watch able if it had been an hour and a half. Or if the last half of the film was a little slower and the first half was a little faster. The direction in the film is good and I liked the use of light and colour. Scenes in the desert and post bomb Baltimore are bright yellow and orange, scenes in Russia have a blue green tinge to them. I liked the use of this convention and made the film nice to look at. Also some cool shots were used and I liked the use of hand held cameras to emphasis the erratic atmosphere of certain scenes. The acting in the film is good and the casting in the film is spot on. I especially liked Liev Schreiber's character, he was a CIA agent type person and was under used. The other thing that needs applauding is the special effects the bomb exploding was excellently done and was one of the best parts of the film. I wouldn't really recommend this film to everyone because I think only certain people will like it but if you like this type of film go and see it.is building a bomb that he will set off in America and start a war between Russia and America. Leaving his nazis followers to pick up the pieces.
I am no fan of the Tom Clancy novels that this film is an adaptation of. Not really being a thriller person, I also hold no store by the hero Jack Ryan, who seems to have grown from a minor personage, to CIA adviser, to Presidential Adviser, to Ruler of the Western Hemisphere followed by Governor of the Milky Way (OK, perhaps those last 2 episodes have yet to be written). This film features the third actor to play Ryan, Ben Affleck. It starts with him as a lowly specialist in post-Soviet Russian politics, especially focussing on a "Red" politician by the name of Nemirov. Ryan has some hot totty for a girlfriend, a nurse whose sole role in the film is to roll round a bed with him, and provide some mild humour on one occasion. In a flashback to the recent past, an Israeli fighter pilot drops his sweetheart's picture midflight, and ends up losing his life. AND his nuclear bomb, which smashes into the Levantine deserts and gets buried. Cue some shady Arab excavators, who find it years on, and sell it on. One of the threads of the film is then for us to find out who the buyer is, and what use the bomb will be put to. And this is where the topicality of the film's production comes into play, for the sole enemy worthy of such a bomb must be the USA, which indeed proves to be its destination. But, of course, the enemies of the US are not so clear-cut, especially when they themselves are such a muddle of conflicting opinions. Some think they can grow to like the Russians, some still hate them. None really blanch at using them as the target of war games practises. The actual time the movie is set in is something of a blur, for a lot of the Russian interest is in Chechnya, which all must admit seems to be on the back-burner as a global headlining act. Which is why the viewer in 2002 is much less concerned than the American big-wigs when the news comes through that someone, presumably the Russians, have gassed Grozhny. To make matters worse, the film starts with the German Colonel from 'Allo 'Allo as Russian President. But in a film-stealing 2-line cameo, he snuffs it, and lo and behold, Nemirov jumps to take his place. Is he really as evil as some Americans think? Is Ryan right in his opinions? Place your bets now! DO IT!! Here our hero drops the persona he has to use with his girlfriend, that of an ex-soldier historian, and fly full tilt to Russia to look into things. Ryan is aided at this juncture by Morgan Freeman, who is the head of CIA, practically. He's SO BIG he gets to sit with the President in cars, and at American Football matches. And so the battle lines are drawn. American politicians against President Nemirov, who looks and acts like a token Alan Rickman film baddy, but is played by Ciaran Hinds. American politicians against Jack Ryan, who has found out about the bomb, and can only presume it's a-heading his way. Jack Ryan against the Russians, who seem a bit miffed at American interest, and blame for the Grozhny gassing. And everyone against the real baddy, which is where a very odd-looking Alan Bates comes in. He must be bad, he has a Swastika engraved on his watch. Who he actually is is never really defined, but he seems to be somewhere in the middle ground between the West and Russia - either Chechnyan or Bosnian or someone. The Sum of All Fears is a film of two halves. Part one is quite a meaty thriller as Ryan grows into the part of planetary saviour, aided by Freeman. It is leavened by some bits of humour, as I say. This includes the White House dinner where things all kick off, and the male half of the audience stand to answer their mobile phones regarding the bad news. Ryan also stands, just so he doesn't look out of place with his girlfriend. And a few scenes back, she thought he wrote books for a living... But then comes the major transition, the use of the bomb, which is quite a show-case piece of reel. No-one overdoes the event, though, and for some reason, hardly anyone cares about fall-out or anything. It must have been a brave Jack Ryan whose kids were in danger in another Clancy film, with all the irradiated sperm he ends this one owning. The second half of the film is nearly a let-down, with Ryan piggie in the middle between his bosses and "their enemies" - the bomb must have come from a nuclear-capable country, and Nemirov looks responsible for the Chechnya attack. Only Ryan knows the truth it seems, plus Alan Bates, whose cronies include rogue Russian soldiers in his employ. And it all (nearly) descends to cliche, as against the ticking clock, Ryan must calm the nerves of both increasingly-aggressive sides, and save the nuking of his domain. The film is entertaining on a small scale, but is no blockbuster. Yes there are some big names, include the farmer from Babe as American president (no, he doesn't look the part). Freeman is very good in his interplay with Affleck, who seems rather bland and wishy-washy. Yes, he is supposed to be green and naive about 'covert ops' but Ryan doesn't really walk tall enough for Affleck to carry the film. It all looks good (all shot in Montreal, except for the really real location shots in Red Square), but not fabulous. The acting equals out as good, but not great. There are some good bits of minor detail - the way the Americans get invited to walk through the Russian nuclear research centre as appeasement. Through only one door off the street, and a plutonium bomb is seen being dangled from a crane down a well. Three agents had already died trying for such a view, Freeman's character tells Ryan. In the end it's just a regular, three-star thriller. One needn't worry about the mirroring of recent American history, and I don't think it's really being sold on this. My guess is all the fans of the book will be happy with the result, but to my non-thriller-buff eyes, it did seem a bit light.
Like apple pie and jellybeans, movies have become part of the American culture in a way that makes the average British moviegoer cry out for a different story. Having been treated to the Patriot and independence day in recent years, one tends to get somewhat tired of predictable gung ho style “God bless America” movies, and as I addressed the audience at last nights premiere of Sum of all Fear, I too anticipated another tear jerky piece of “glory, glory hallelujah” Hollywood trash, and although not entirely wrong, I was also pleasantly surprised. So few movies have made my heart stop beating for a couple of seconds, and make me think “did that just happen?” Sum of all Fear did just that, if only briefly. Based on Tom Clancy’s best-selling novel, I should have known it would be somewhat different to the run of the mill movies. After Tom treated us to the likes of the hunt for red October, Patriot games, and clear and present danger, Sum of all fear had to have some kind of military espionage and political undertone, and it did! Starring Ben Affleck as Russian intelligence expert John Tracy, (Played originally by Harrison Ford) forced into an active role in the CIA, I watched with abated breath. Now I find Ben more a light-hearted actor than a serious contender for an Oscar, and playing alongside one of my all time favourite actors, Morgan Freeman (Who bears a remarkable resemblance to Yoda does he not?) he raised his acting a couple of notches and went up slightly in my estimations, but not enough to justify his role as JT. Morgan freeman, unfortunately type cast as the one liner wise man, used his enigmatic profile to carry much of the early part of the movie, where action was scarce and imagination not needed. A kind of predictable first half-hour, which to be honest had you came in late, you could have caught up with in two minutes. Thumb twiddling had now commenced as the on ly thing to keep me occupied in this time was some fantastic camera work which reminded me of The Blair Witch Project, for those that haven’t seen TBWP, they are running through the woods while filming, so you have a shaky camera effect which makes for a realistic journey along side the actor, rather than spanning the scenery making it two dimensional. The music I found quite haunting at times, like religious chanting that you would find in a monastery, you know the sound, loads of monks singing together? Moving on, filmed mainly in Montreal, the scenes were amazingly accurate with the American football game /stadium and absolute belter, with thousands of extras used to give it a realistic feel, and it worked. Now it was about half way through the movie that the shock happened, and I am not going to tell you what it is as that will spoil the whole show! Lets just say I was now giving the film my undivided attention, or at least for the next twenty minutes or so. With the exception of this bit, the plot was very predictable, and the need for some kind of enemy, even in peacetime is starting to be weary and unbelievable. In this story, the enemy were a band of neo-nazis who though that if America and Russia killed each other, that Nazi power would be restored to the world! Oh really, ho hum! Having not read the book, I somehow feel that this was changed slightly from the original (just checked, it was Arab extremists!) These people managed to find a nuclear bomb, which had remained buried in the desert for some 30 years. Build their own bomb and then………….well, you work it out. Now the story as I said slightly predictable with a bit of originality in the middle, and the acting not really Ben’s style, yet still I found this quite an entertaining movie with a lot of good special effects and camerawork. Suitable for those people who don’t mind their movies bastardised by t he American way, and a definite compared to some of the less compelling movies released of late. The general consensus from the 100 people who watched the movie last night was good, not great, but good. An entertaining yawn that is worthy of parting with your £5.50. Personally? Well, I really enjoyed twenty minutes of it, and was entertained for the rest. Seen better. Angus Reid
It seems very wrong to say something benefited from the events of September 11th and the act of terrorism upon America's World Trade Towers but "The Sum of All Fears" certainly has. Without those events, it may just have been another just another retrospective thriller, but in their aftermath, the events which unfold before your eyes here have so much more impact and leave not a nasty taste of 'what if?' in your mouth, but an 'is this the next level?' instead. Tom Clancy penned his novel long before Bin Laden's attack on America, yet his novel was unfortunately way ahead of its time in respect to its content. To adapt it fully to the cinema screen would have been nigh on impossible and as a result the only thing which remains true to the text here is the basic plot outline and the character names. A full adaptation of one of Clancy's techno-thrillers would have run into a mini-series and no doubt probably will at some stage, but this condensed, stripped down version works well because it keeps the pace frantic if a little confusing at times. Its a story of a terrorist attack provoking a nuclear stand-off between the two cold war enemies of the US and the Russians although the faces of the guilty have been changed from those of Middle-Eastern origins in the book to a neo-Nazi group for understandable reasons. Returning to the screen for the third time is Jack Ryan, this time played by current Hollywood darling Ben Affleck who takes over the role from Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford who have played him in the three previous Clancy adaptations featuring that character - "The Hunt For Red October", "Patriot Games" and "Clear And Present Danger". Its a race against time to prevent each side from pushing the big red button and plunging the Earth into a nuclear winter after a massive terrorist attack on American soil (nuking the Superbowl stadium) and Ryan seems to be the only level head amongst t hem all...and that's all I'm going to say about the plot, because its the unfolding of events which I found so intriguing and I'm not about to ruin them for possible future viewers. Think Russians, neo-Nazis, nukes, C.I.A. and impending world demise wrapped up in some very plausible events coupled with the occasional cerebral leap of faith and you have it in a nutshell. Trying place this movie in any kind of context to the novels will confuse the hell out of you if you are a fan of Tom Clancy and have been following the affairs of Jack Ryan. Ryan is obviously played Affleck, who is much younger than the two actors who took the role before him, his wife in the last movie is his new girlfriend here, his children are yet to be born, Ryan is new to the C.I.A....and the year is quite obviously 2002! In order to bring another of the Jack Ryan franchise to the screen and keep it relevant to the current political situation, the creators of this movie have taken a few liberties with space and time which is all a little confusing at first. Clancy fans prepare for some head scratching, or should I say, be warned, or you'll spend much of the movie trying to work out where it all fits in - and its not going to! *Sigh*...Hollywood... The next big problem comes from Affleck again who is quite simply NOT suited to this kind of role - and seems to be getting cast in them with alarming regularity now. He was the weak link in "Changing Lanes", although better than expected, and his is the weak link here as well, looking distinctly out of his depth when faced with a heavy-weight script and some supporting actors of real class. He even looked out of his depth in the far from over-taxing "Armageddon", but taking over from the likes of Harrison Ford and standing here in the company of the likes of Morgan Freeman simply helps highlight his shortcomings as an actor. Fortunately, the supporting cast include the aforementioned Morgan Freeman who seems incapable of anything but great performances as CIA director Bill Cabot, James Cromwell and Ciaran Hinds as leaders of America and Russia respectively and Liev Schreiber as amoral agent John Clark and are all quite excellent. To play on this movie's bad points would be wrong however because I did enjoy it. Its easy to see how it wouldn't be for everyone although most of the criticism I've seen levelled at it so far seems to be that it plays out like a throwback to the Cold War, or that its just the old US-Russia paranoia reheated for the 21st century and barely mentions the Middle East at all. So what? Yes it does in many respects and the book it is based upon is now over 10 years old, but I can't honestly say I find the old spy movies any less enjoyable because the Russian threat is supposedly over, nor do I see that Hollywood simply MUST mirror real life events and focus upon Arab nations from now to judgement day - probably best that it doesn't in the case of a movie like this anyway. The fact is, the plot as it unfolds is both plausible, packed full of escalating suspense and feeds well upon the well founded paranoia following 9/11. This isn't your typical summer blockbuster, nor should it be approached as such because if you are looking for a no-brainer action thriller you'll be sadly disappointed. Most of the action here takes place in a whodunnit style, but this time, it piecing together just who the hell set off a nuclear bomb in the middle of the Superbowl and why - and doing it before all hell breaks loose on a global scale. There are some moments of action, not least the detonation of a nuclear weapon but its handled in something of a matter-of-fact manner, so don't expect big much in the way of eye candy. Arguably, it's the most low-key nuclear incident you're ever likely to see on film. Director Phil Alden Robinson had something of an unenviable task in bringi ng one of Clancy's typically convoluted thrillers to the big screen and for the most part has done a good job in condensing it down into a 2 hour running time. As I said before, this kind of thing would be better suited to a mini-series of some kind, but if you pay an awful lot of attention you'll be able to follow the flow - disappear off to the loo or something for 5 minutes and you are in severe danger of coming back and being entirely lost. You simply *must* concentrate to keep up so its definitely not one to chill out in front of and not exactly your typical summer movie. Its definitely flawed but its all good fun in an "impending world demise" kind of way and certainly worthy way to waste of 2 hours of your life...
Based on the novel by Tom Clancy, this is the tale of Jack Ryan, who is hired to advise the CIA when the Russian President is replaced by a virtually unknown politician.