The Sum of All Fears (2002) Review

The Sum of All Fears (2002) Director: Phil Alden Robinson


Based on Tom Clancy’s 1991 novel of the same name, The Sum of All Fears is the fourth major motion picture to feature Jack Ryan. This time it features Ben Affleck in the lead role in a somewhat apocalyptic installment in the Jack Ryan saga.

In the film, an Austrian Neo-Nazi (not an Arab terrorist as in the novel) recovers plutonium from a downed jet fighter and begins plans to trigger a nuclear war between the United States and Russia in an effort to revive European fascism. Suddenly, Baltimore is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust and CIA Analyst Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) is the only one who discovers that the weapon used was acquired on the black market weapon, not from the Russians. This is a prequel of sorts for Jack Ryan. Morgan Freeman plays the Director of the CIA Bill Cabot, and Bridget Moynahan plays a young Cathy. There is a string of other notable actors appearing in the film: James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber, Michael Byrne and others. At any rate, the film ends in characteristically happy fashion as a full-scale nuclear war has been averted, despite the fact that a major U.S. city was decimated.

When all is said and done this was a bit too cliche for me, it could have easily been replayed as stereotypical sarcastic television program in the vein of The West Wing. The Sum of All Fears is not my favorite of the Jack Ryan series –it is simply too predictable and formulaic to be a successful thriller.

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