Sum of all Fears (2002)
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Review Date: May 29, 2002
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Writer: Paul Attanasio, Daniel Pyne
Producers: Mace Neufeld
Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan
Morgan Freeman as Bill Cabot
James Cromwell as President Fowler
A young CIA agent, aka Jack Ryan, gets the opportunity of a lifetime when the Russian president dies and his unknown replacement is a man about whom Jack knows more than most people. Tagging along to Russia with his superior, Ryan notices some missing Ruski scientists and it isn't long before a nuclear bomb is also discovered to be "in play". Who has the bomb? Where are the scientists? Who will stop the next world war? What the hell is the actual sum of all your fears? Tom Clancy stuff ensues...
I'm not 100% sure if it was the movie that didn't grab me by the balls at any time, or if I was just in a dicky mood when I watched it, but there wasn't much about this flick which truly blew me away. It was an okay movie with okay acting, an okay story and an okay premise...but it just started too slowly and took way too long to get going. Once things did get moving though, they were somewhat gripping, but even then, films like CRIMSON TIDE and THIRTEEN DAYS, both of which cover the same type of material, are definitely the greater nail-biters. It was also fairly interesting to watch young Jack Ryan running around, trying to find a solution to this massive crisis, but many of the things that he stumbled across seemed to be dug up by other people and he just appeared to be the dude who put it all together. Not that his actions were entirely unimpressive on their own, but I guess I'd come to expect more out of Jack Ryan movies. I also expected to see more "real" thrills and action, but the film is basically just a "talkie" until the crucial event occurs, and then it's just a lot of chaos, disorientation and a giant chess game between countries. The fact that it all relates extremely closely to the real-life events of 9/11 did make it that much more chilling, but it also raised a lot more realistic questions, like how many people passed away, where the heck was the vice-president through all of this, how the heck can they analyze a site of that magnitude that quickly and how did they cover the rest of the world in such lightning speed? (suspension of disbelief is a "must" in flicks of this sort)

I also wasn't particularly impressed by the "bad guy" in the movie who basically just came off as a caricature with very little background or development. The film did however succeed in portraying what a real attack of this type could be like (the actual blast scene is horrific and well presented), the directing was solid and the score adequate, but I could have done without the "love interest" subplot or the goofy jokes spread around here and there. As for the plot, there were a couple of small surprises, but overall, I was pretty sure about how things would turn out, so I wasn't terribly tense throughout. As for Ben Affleck and his take on the character of Jack Ryan (an earlier incarnation of the man played in the sequels by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford), I thought he did an "okay" job, but once more, there wasn't anything there that made me particularly squeal or go gonzo for the guy. Freeman, however, was his solid self, looking over his glasses like no other actor in the world, James Cromwell impressed as the President and Liev Schreiber, who I generally shrug off in most films, made quite the dent as the "spy-of-all-trades". One cold mofo.

Overall, it may seem like I'm shitting all over this movie but it really does present an extremely scary possibility and the tit-for-tat back and forth between the Americans and the Russians was pretty engaging to watch as well (the second half). Don't go in expecting action or a zillion thrills, because the film doesn't really deliver on that front, but if you're into political mumbo-jumbo, military shenanigans and films in which governments compete for who's got the bigger dick, this film may just tempt your tummy with the taste of nuts and honey. For me, it was a so-so movie all the way, but then again, I just got dumped by the love of my life today so God knows my head wasn't exactly in the perfecto-mundo state of mind. My suggestion: catch it on video.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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