The Sum of All Fears

Details & Information from IMDB

Genre Action
Year 2002
Duration 124 min
Rating 6.4 out of 10
Description: When the Russian President suddenly dies of a heart attack, the new Russian President is sworn in quickly. American intelligence belives him to be a hard-liner, but young CIA analyst Jack Ryan doesn't think so. While Ryan & his boss, Bill Cabot, are inspecting disarmament at Russian nuclear sites, 3 Russian scientists have mysteriously disappeared. Although the Russians have explanations for their absence, none of them are true. In Austria, a strange man - a neo-fascist - has developed a frightening plan to incite a war between Russia & the U.S., using an unexploded bomb from the deserts of the Middle East. When the 3 Russian scientists are later found dead, Ryan tries to trace their path. By this time, the bomb is on its way to the U.S.A - in a cigarette machine! The bomb is placed in a football stadium where the U.S. President is in attendance. Ryan soon discovers the bomb is in Baltimore and alerts Bill Cabot, who gets the President out of the stadium quickly. Minutes later, the low-yield nuclear bomb explodes, killing several thousands! From Air Force One, the President transmits messages to the Russian President, who denies that the Russians have placed the bomb on U.S. soil. But rogue members of the Russian Air Force are in on the sinister plan, and when an aircraft carrier is attacked and crippled by Russian planes, things quickly go from bad to worse. It is up to Ryan to find out where the bomb came from and get that information to the President before SNAPCOUNT - the order to launch ICBMs at Russia - is completed.
Comments: The Sum of All Fears is much scarier than it might have seemed a year ago, that is, before the free world became vulnerable post 9/11. But today, it's stomach-turning. Oh, yes, there is a horrendous blast that takes place that annihilates thousands of innocent people, and is actually more explicit than one might have guessed. Of course, the movie had completed production before 9/11 and probably required some changes in some of the scenes.

Is the movie any good? Oh, yes. It's one of those smart espionage thrillers from a Tom Clancy bestseller which brings hero Jack Ryan to the screen for the fourth time. Ryan has been played by Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October and Harrison Ford with the so-so Patriot Games and the mildly engrossing Clear and Present Danger. This time, Jack Ryan's shoes are filled by Ben Affleck, which is like a revisionist way of looking at CIA analyst Ryan during his rookie years. He has a low-level analyst position where he writes reports, but then a key dissertation on the newly inducted Russian president (played by Ciarán Hinds) gets him the attention of CIA director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman).

The story has multiple locations that jump all over the map from Western Europe, Russia and the Middle East. It all has to do with a fission bomb that has been missing for nearly thirty years, when it was dropped by an Israeli fighter jet that was shot down. American president James Cromwell holds Russia responsible once a nuclear explosion wipes out a Middle Eastern nation. Ryan's theories are shared with the President, but his shallow reports don't earn him any stars and stripes. Instead, particular details that the Pentagon may have overlooked may lead to World War III.

The most suspenseful and terrorizing moments occur when a nuclear bomb is transported through customs into the United States. A trail of clues leads Ryan and CIA undercover operative Liev Schrieber to the terrorist perpetrators. Well, maybe not on time. How late is too late? Ryan is ultimately the hero of the story but he doesn't come out entirely clean after a grave disaster. This is a goosebump, "lump-in-your-throat" thriller that leaves one nearly exhausted, if not distraught. Spy fans will relish its complex plotting and multiple story lines. Clancy fans will be engaged by its behind-the-scenes look at government operations and with its world politics. This is yet another role where Freeman is perfectly suited as the world weary mentor and Affleck makes a game effort in playing the intractable Jack Ryan. All principles of filmmaking are excellent in a movie that seems timelier now than ever.

There are some difficulties in watching it though. You see, I can't help but be bothered by the fact that we are watching a Jack Ryan movie that takes place after all the previous, but it seems our hero, Ryan, has gotten younger. Maybe the fountain of youth is actually inside the CIA building in Langley. This is the exact reason why I feel that Red Dragon will be most difficult to swallow. Watching the aged Hopkins as Lector will be difficult in a film which precedes Silence of the Lambs. In no way should this keep you from seeing the film, it is Jack Ryan's best adventure!