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Be Very Afraid!
Sum Of All Fears (DVD)
Member Name: kenjohn
Sum Of All Fears (DVD)
Date: 04/08/04, updated on 04/08/04 (66 review reads)
Advantages: Taut, tense, exciting thriller
Disadvantages: Suffers a little from an unscheduled change in the plot
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