The Sum Of All Fears

sum of all fearsReleased: 2002
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Starring: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman

Not bad, not great, just fine


It’s now May and my New Year’s resolution to watch all of my unwatched DVDs hasn’t exactly got off to a great start. As we’re nearly halfway through the year I think we can all agree that it’s actually had a dreadful start. I think I have to watch about five films a day if I’m going to get anywhere near catching up with myself by the end of December. This is good news for me and may be good news for you, depending on how much you’re looking forward to a tour of my extensive film collection.

Looking ahead to later this year and the release of the Chris Pine and Keira Knightley starring Jack Ryan I decided to watch the first few films based on Tom Clancy’s novels, starring with The Sum of All Fears. I find Tom Clancy novels difficult to read. The stories are interesting and exciting but the telling of the story is long-winded and dull. One part of the novel The Sum Of All Fears which lasts approximately 50 pages is dealt with in the credit sequence. But while the film makes the book more palatable does it match up to the preceding movie instalments in the Jack Ryan series?

This is a reboot of the Alec Baldwin/Harrison Ford films which introduced the audience to CIA analyst Dr Jack Ryan who becomes embroiled in Soviet submarine politics, Irish Republican terrorism and Central American drug cartels. This film stars Ben Affleck as Ryan and takes us back to the beginning of his career at the CIA as a junior analyst specialising in Russian affairs. When a neo-Nazi group acquires and detonates a nuclear bomb it threatens to spark all-out war between the US and Russia. Only Ryan believes that the Russians are innocent on the attack on America.

The Sum of All Fears has had mixed reviews and mixed is a good description of how I feel about this film. The storyline is fine – nothing original or spectacular but perfectly decent for an action film. The acting is fine too, at the time there were some questions about Ben Affleck’s suitability for the role of the cerebral but tough Ryan particularly coming just the year after the disaster that was Pearl Harbor. I don’t think that’s a fair criticism and quite enjoyed his performance, but I do wonder how much of that judgment is hindsight and knowing him as the smart director of Argo and the campaigning advocate for the Eastern Congo. Affleck’s co-stars are also all solid in their roles, particularly Morgan Freeman as the CIA director and James Cromwell as the US President.

I can’t enthuse about the film in any way but I don’t dislike it either. The script is weak and the action isn’t as satisfying as it could be. It is actually remarkably dull in the moments immediately after the major action set-piece. The only truly impressive aspect of the film is Live Schreiber’s performance as black ops agent John Clark, he offers strength and black humour. Slight weaknesses and strengths aside everything about The Sum of All Fears is just alright, or decent, or good enough.

I enjoyed The Sum of All Fears, I’m glad I scoured my collection to watch it; I’m just not entirely sure when I’ll get round to watching it again.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

Speak Your Mind