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The Sum of all Fears (2002)

The countdown has started to the end of the world

Directed by:

Phil Alden Robinson

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 118 minutes

UK Certificate: 12

On DVD

Country: United States

Ben Affleck takes on the challenge of playing Jack Ryan (played in the past by both Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford). In this film, Jack is a young historian doing research for the CIA. When the president of Russia suddenly dies, the man who succeeds him – Zorkin (Richard Marner) – is a political unknown, much to the dismay of the Americans. Jack Ryan had once written a largely-unread research paper on Zorkin, which even went so far as to predict that he was a possible candidate for this post. As a result of his research, he is recruited by CIA director Bill Cabot (Morgan Freeman) to provide background on the new president.

Jack soon finds himself in at the deep end. A nuclear bomb explodes in Baltimore. It is an old lost Israeli bomb, secretly bought and used by terrorists, but the nervous Americans are quick to blame the Russians. This is exactly what the terrorists were seeking – open warfare between the two nations. Now only Jack can prevent all out nuclear war.

As an action movie on its own, this one holds up well, even if it does feel a little familiar. However, this is not just any actioner but a Jack Ryan film, and to a degree it fails to live up to expectations. Ben Affleck does a workmanlike job of playing Jack, but he simply isn't old enough to have the maturity for the role, although changes made to his position in the CIA and the non-existence of the family he used to have do paper over some of the cracks. The film is based on the novel by Tom Clancy. The plot is lacking the depth and complexity of the novel from which it is drawn, and in this sense it is the weakest of the films adapted from Clancy's work.

It's Got: Ben Affleck making a valiant attempt to step into Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford’s shoes.

It Needs: More of the complexity and tension that characterise Clancy’s work.

DVD Extras The visual effects items are particularly interesting for those who like to know how things are done, and the commentary with Tom Clancy is very revealing. Commentary by Director Phil Alden Robinson and Cinematographer John Lindley, Commentary by Director Phil Alden Robinson and novelist Tom Clancy, A Cautionary Tale, Visual Effects, Theatrical Trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10

Alternatives:

Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, The Hunt for Red October

Summary

This is a decent action film that provides good solid entertainment plus a great big bomb explosion, but it doesn’t have the depth of either its predecessors or the Clancy novels.

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