May 2002
The Sum of All Fears

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

The Sum of All Fears

Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
Screenwriters: Paul Attanasio & Daniel Pyne, based on the novel by Tom Clancy
Producer: Mace Neufeld
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Cast: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Bridget Moynahan, Liev Schrieber
Running Time: 125 min

Does time heal all wounds? Are people fickle to tragedy? There are no real answers to these questions. One thing is certain. Throughout the times that the United States have been at war, theater owners still carried and presented controversy films of its times. In the aftermath of 9/11, few films that tackled terrorism were put on the shelf because the powers that be were sensitive to the Americaís emotions. Most of those films have been released already this year and havenít been critically or financially successful. Now comes a film where the subject matter is as close to reality as it gets. Although THE SUM OF ALL FEARS was based on the popular novel by Tom Clancy and written years ago, the film serves as a reminder that although we are facing tough times, we can still go out and enjoy a fast paced thriller without letting our emotions get the best of us.

With Ben Affleck taking over and starring as the new Jack Ryan, liberties were taken with the original story. This film serves as a predecessor to the previous films (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger). We first meet Ryan as a young historian in a think tank organization. As a new President in Russia is being sworn, over in the USA, the CIA head leader William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) brings Ryan to the CIA. Seems that Ryan once predicted that Nemerov (Ciaran Hinds)would succeed to the throne in a paper he wrote. He is brought in for his analysis onthe new leader, as nuclear weapons are the new toys in war games between the two countries. What would happenif we were at war with each other and either country fired off just one missile? President Fowler (James Cromwell) and his staff donít seem to think much of Ryanís opinion as Nemerov does quite the opposite what Ryan wrote about him. As Cabot sends Ryan to get more evidence, he send with him undercover agent John Clark (Liev Schreiber) to assist him. This forces Ryan to leave his girlfriend Dr. Cathy Muller (Bridget Moynahan) at home and ponder their relationship. When Ryan discovers more than he wished for, heís too late as America is hit with a catastrophe. As chaos ensues, America prepares to fight back. It up to Ryan to get the information he gathered to the right people before all is lost and the sum of all fears is zero in every way possible.

Afflect does a credible job portraying the young naÔve historian whoís thrown into a political and dangerous game. He carries the same persona brought on by the previous actors who played Ryan (Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford). All three had their moment of being the illogical hero but the difference here is the writing. Afflect is not asked to carry to torch every step of the film. Written by Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne, the duo made every effort to make this film an ensemble film. Itís intelligent and Cromwell stands out amongst the many supporting cast members. In the previous films, Robinson made sure Ryan was always the focus of attention whereas in this film the scenes shifts back and forth between Ryan, the President and his staff, and a third party. Freeman, ever the statesman, proves once again how good an actor he is. He falls into his role seamlessly and serves as a mentor to Ryanís youthful being. The special effects of what happens when a nuclear is launched are stunning as well as scary. It definitely brings forth a reminder of 9/11 but to a different degree. This is summer time where people go to the movies in droves. Whether itís to get cool air, escape reality, or watch our favorite stars, news event donít deter our burning desire for a good thriller. Americans are fickle in that although we live our lives with reservations as what to may happen in wake of 9/ll, we still go to see films like ďTHE SUM OF ALL FEARSĒ, because itís exciting and powerful engaging. Just when you thought the suspense of what may occur happens, thereís still more to come.

 

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