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Overall Rating
2.95

Awesome: 3.67%
Worth A Look35.78%
Average: 27.52%
Pretty Bad: 18.35%
Total Crap: 14.68%

8 reviews, 61 user ratings


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Sum of All Fears, The
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by Chris Parry

"Big budget action without the vomitous aftertaste!"
4 stars

The Sum of all Fears looked great as a trailer, but then so did Independence Day. So did Godzilla. So did U-571. Unlike those other three, The Sum of all Fears has merit. It has believable action. It has humor. It has acting. It doesn't treat the film fan like a child with a cleft palette. And that makes it a movie well worth seeing, especially if you've always wanted to see Baltimore reduced to six feet of dust - and who can honestly say they haven't harbored that feeling?

Jack Ryan is a humble media analyst for the gub'ment. He watches footage of Russian government officials and tries to uncover clues as to information that they might be hiding - who's doing who, who's about to fall off the perch, who's likely to want to blow up the Vatican. So when the big Russki dies and is replaced by an unknown quantity, the feds want to know who this new guy is, what he's likely to do differently and whether they should be afraid. Luckily for Ben Affleck's career, Mr Ryan had previously written a paper on Mr Unknownski, which thrusts him up into the middle levels of the intelligence world in an instant.

Cue problems with Senor Vodka keeping control of his armed forces, a problem with some missing nuclear scientists and a plot by nazis (don't you just HATE nazis!) to cause Russia and the USA to launch nukes at each other by blowing up Baltimore.

Now, it might be best to let suspension of disbelief take over here for a while, as anyone who has visited Baltimore knows it was nuked a long time ago, but let's pretend Baltimore isn't a hole in the ground and just run with it.

Affleck: action hero. Discuss.

Well, he's a little gay. I mean, not to say Affleck likes getting his rogering stick touched by the local priest or anything, but there's something a little prissy about Affleck these days that there never used to be. Maybe it's the lack of recreational blackjack, but the dude doesn't quite seem to be the same hardnose that he was in such breathtaking cinema as Bounce, Boiler Room and Armageddon. In Changing Lanes, the prissy side of Affleck was perfect. As Jack Ryan, world-traveled arse-kicker, it's all a little too Schumacher-esque.

Not to say that Affleck is woeful. He's not. But I have fans too, and I need to make fun of somebody or my faithful readers will start reading that Angry Jew fellow, so out of a good film that's well worth the money, I choose Affleck as my target du jour.

There were other possibilities for targeting. Morgan Freeman is most assuredly working for the money these days, and though his natural charisma and talent do make his character, Affleck's boss, one of the best in the film, it's still always a little unsettling to see him doing action movies and Ashley Judd thrillers when we all know there's another Shawshank in him.

James Cromwell, playing the President, didn't sell me at all, but that could be simply because he played it intelligent, and anyone with more than six months experience as a human being on the planet earth knows that intelligence and the United States President are hardly symbiotic terms.

From a directorial standpoint, I have no beefs with this project at all. Phil Alden Robinson is one of those guys that does good work, no matter what. Field of Dreams, Sneakers, these are not 'high suckage content' films (let's forget In The Mood and Rhinestone, he's done his time), and though he's been out of the loop for a while, he makes the best of his biggest opportunity to date.

Let it be known that the version of The Sum of All Fears that is in the theaters now wasn't the version that was originally planned - Affleck has admitted that changes were made post-9/11, and when watching the film you can see exactly where they are. The high point of the film (if you could call it that) is when a nuclear blast goes off in a US city. I'm not telling you any secrets here, the trailers (shock!) gives it away, but when you're watching the film and big boom hits, it's surprising how little of it you actually see. I mean, Armageddon slammed NYC buildings with giant rocks and the effects were the highpoint of an otherwise ridiculously awful film, but in Sum of All Fears the effects are very very slim, when it comes to anything that might remind anyone in North America of the day the Towers went boom.

Maybe that's good, in your opinion. In mine, it's weak. We know it's a movie, we're not going to run into the street and hide in the subway in case it happens, just show the damn movie and leave the psychological protection for pyschologists.

So bottom line, is Sum of All Fears worth the (inflated) price of admission? Absolutely. In fact, if you can do a Sum of All Fears/Changing Lanes double feature, you could do a lot worse for a day of cinematic entertainment.

Does it have plotholes? Oh yeah.

Will it change the world? No more so than Juwanna Mann will.

But it's a good, understated, under-ridiculous, well put together thinking man's action movie, based on a solid book and put together by an underrated director. It won't win any Oscars, but if they'd thrown in a retard or two, or had Halle Berry take her shirt off, perhaps they might have come close...

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5927&reviewer=1
originally posted: 06/13/02 05:53:29
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User Comments

1/24/11 JM Synth Deathly Dull. Too dry to be any fun, too silly and thin to be anything substantial 1 stars
5/27/08 PAUL SHORTT A LESS THAN THRILLING THRILLER 1 stars
1/11/07 Ole Man Bourbon I know that I saw "Sum of All Farts," but I can't remember a single thing about it. 1 stars
2/14/06 R.W.Welch Okay plot and execution though Affleck is no H. Ford. 3 stars
2/13/06 Anthony The Highlight of this film is the credits 1 stars
8/17/05 ES 'Hey let's ruin the upstanding line of Jack Ryan movies by adding Affleck!'= ok! 1 stars
3/25/05 me Being a reader of Clancy, I was severely underwhelmed by this, but the book was merely okay 2 stars
3/22/05 Landshark blows hard, thankfully the young Jack Ryan era is a short one 1 stars
3/16/05 R.W. Welch Somehow this stuff doesn't quite work without H. Ford. 3 stars
2/22/05 Captain Craig A good spy flic. Especially if you like Ben. 4 stars
10/29/04 Theresa Wagner Making Jack Ryan younger was a mistake but it shows where he got his start. It's an ok movi 3 stars
7/06/04 patrick Affleck lousy, thumbs up 4 Freeman,Mcgill 4 stars
5/31/04 Nobody If it weren't for Affleck's terrible acting, might have been good. 2 stars
6/26/03 cochese Unrealistic. I hate Affleck, but I tolerated him in this one. 4 stars
6/23/03 Jim Improves on the book, which was good but meandering 4 stars
6/03/03 spacecowboy The last 15 minutes were absolutely beautiful. 4 stars
3/17/03 G-man last 45 minutes- awsome, but no good in first hour 4 stars
1/17/03 y2mckay mediocre adaptation of the novel, Ben Affleck the weakest link as usual. 2 stars
12/02/02 Elizaveta Good riveting story - puts the Sept. 11 stuff into perspective 4 stars
11/18/02 Spanky what a letdown. never said "yeah right" so much in a movie 2 stars
11/17/02 snowconehead The book it ain't, but at least there was some nazis died 4 stars
10/29/02 Natalie Stonecipher Good overall edge-of-seat thriller; some subplots incomprehensibly contorted. 4 stars
10/08/02 3man Unrealistic and a lame ending. 2 stars
9/28/02 Digi just not thrill enuf 3 stars
9/27/02 John McNew A bit convoluted, but undeniably effective 4 stars
9/09/02 Monster W. Kung Decent storyline, lame "feel good" ending, too much mumbo-jumbo moralizing. 2 stars
9/08/02 viking Tom Clancy's novel was chilling. This borders on the ridiculous 3 stars
8/18/02 mickey The Jews of Hollywood strike again. This film is utter rubbish. 1 stars
8/06/02 sarahfar88 Jurg is right , they had Bush in mind when they wrote the part for Fowler, go read the book 2 stars
8/05/02 Jurg As unbelievable as flying pigs, as politically correct as the Bush-administration. Crap! 1 stars
7/23/02 Bueller At least Morgan Freeman is making better script decisions since "Hard Rain". 3 stars
7/05/02 Jethro Twenty Cornflake Good stuff when the bomb explodes but mostly dull and contrived. 3 stars
7/01/02 Darrell A real snoozer with very little action. This one will be out on video REAL soon! 1 stars
7/01/02 Michael The explosion scene is awesome!! Ben Affleck and Morgan Freemen were great together. 4 stars
6/29/02 robsv Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan... What's next? Matt Damon as Indiana Jones? 1 stars
6/27/02 Girl 9 Only TWO HOURS TOO LONG!! Only a bit better than crappy. 3 stars
6/22/02 Stephen Hubbard One of the worst scripts I've ever had to sit through. I actually walked out be4 the end! 1 stars
6/22/02 Kever This movie is a fucking can of cat piss. 1 stars
6/14/02 spaceworm Cigarette machines? In a stadium? Since when? 4 stars
6/14/02 TJ Good action flick, but much unbelievable BS. Survive shock of nuclear blast?! 3 stars
6/13/02 frosty Del, you're retarded. Look up the definition of terrorist. 4 stars
6/13/02 Del Give me a break... the real terrorists aren't Neo-Nazis... what bullshit 1 stars
6/13/02 Andy Propaganda bullshit but an ok flick… Nice cinematography. 3 stars
6/13/02 bob Better than some other recent movies 4 stars
6/12/02 FrayLo it's a political thriller, so don't go expecting bond style action 4 stars
6/11/02 Obi Wan Another fine Clancy showing!! I would like to see a movie on Clark w/Schreiber! 5 stars
6/09/02 Jason Taylor This movie rocks! You clowns are doing a relative comparison instead of an absolute one! 5 stars
6/08/02 Viper First half was good, the plot really builds up, then falls apart in the second half. 4 stars
6/07/02 I/O Error Besides from Affleck's less than phenomenal performance, well worth watching. 4 stars
6/07/02 Kyle Here's a nice piece of shit! 1 stars
6/05/02 Todd Pollard Well made adventure 5 stars
6/05/02 Mortis Good if not better than HRO - Looks like the Affleck haters are jealous-poor ugly guys 4 stars
6/05/02 cleansparks I could have done without the pointless romance, but otherwise well done 4 stars
6/04/02 Nick2k alright. not intense like the other. what's with the chronology of these movies though? 3 stars
6/04/02 David A. Intelligent espionage movie. The most exciting part is the depiction of a nuclear explosion 4 stars
6/04/02 Film Dude I refuse to see another Ben Affleck movie as long as I live. Pearl Harbor, now this... 1 stars
6/04/02 Film Guy Messy movie. Ben affleck what where you thinking 1 stars
6/04/02 Blackops does not follow the book, and its Ben Affleck, need i say more. 2 stars
6/04/02 Brad Moynahan Fantastic 5 stars
6/03/02 strider3700 I've seen far worse shit this year. Affleck doesn't even completely suck like normal 4 stars
6/01/02 Kriperace Why did the ragheads get turned into neo-Nazis? 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  31-May-2002 (PG-13)

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