The Sum Of All Fears Review
Jack Ryan has already been through a hell of a lot in his time, and now he has to contend with Neo-Nazis threatening nuclear war against America in the latest Tom Clancy adaptation The Sum Of All Fears.
Ryan, now played by Ben Affleck, is younger than his Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford incarnations, and this latest film is bizarrely set clearly in today's time period despite focusing on an earlier timeframe of Ryan's life - in other words, the situations that caused him to join the CIA. These sort of literary thriller adaptations are always follow more of a set-piece, stand-alone style as opposed to a continuing saga anyhow, and fortunately The Sum Of All Fears is not harmed by this paradoxical timeframe.
The story involves the president of Russia dying over ill health. His successor Alexander Nemerov is an unknown quantity from a political point of view and thus President Fowler's (James Cromwell) paranoia concerning the relationship between the two nations is increased. Young Jack Ryan (Affleck), an expert on the behaviour of Nemerov, is brought in by director of the CIA William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) to help assess the situation. However, unknown to the White House, certain other factions around the world are exploiting the situation to throw Americans and Russians against each other in a bitter nuclear war.
Paramount have been churning out this sort of political thriller for years, attaching two big star leads and a director usually looking to reintegrate himself with Hollywood. The Sum Of All Fears is no different, with Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman (who has associated himself with some dire efforts of late) and stars as Phil Alden Robinson, director of the brilliant Field Of Dreams and enjoyable Sneakers, at the helm. You know what to expect by now when you see a Tom Clancy adaptation - the masses of helicopters, political jargon and a high amount of White House tension. However, what is so refreshing about The Sum Of All Fears is despite possessing a formulaic opening and closing act, the middle segment is very exciting and very unexpected. It helps to elevate the film above the standard level of quality that this genre usually commands.
As Ryan, Affleck is actually quite good. He commands likeable interest as the film's lead, and he isn't arrogant or too cocky. Freeman is always dependable in whatever film he is in, but for every Nurse Betty he appears in he always seems to be dogged down by Hard Rain or Along Came A Spider. The film has some good support, in the form of James Cromwell, Ron Rifkin, Alan Bates, Liev Schreiber and Philip Baker Hall, and they help to breathe life into some conventional supporting characters.
Robinson as director is efficient enough in charge of The Sum Of All Fears even if he does nothing to disassociate himself from the 'director-for-hire' mantle. He was always more assured when filming his own pet projects. Still, The Sum Of All Fears is good entertainment for two hours even if it lacks in any sort of innovation. It maintains the basic premise of Clancy's novel and it certainly is as good as the three previous Jack Ryan efforts (Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Clear And Present Dangers) even if it will be forgotten about this time next year.