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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 Rob Gonsalves

"Same old Clancy military alarmism."
2 stars

With all due respect to the people of the real Baltimore, I have to say that the highlight -- in terms of visual and dramatic force -- of 'The Sum of All Fears' is the moment when Baltimore gets nuked. The movie leads up to that mighty moment, but we don't quite expect it when it hits, and it hits hard and quick.

The sequence, which unintentionally and unavoidably plugs into our current wolf-hour preoccupations, is handled no more or less deftly -- or seriously -- than similar big-bang moments were in Independence Day, Deep Impact, or Armageddon. As before, we're being teased with a visual of American apocalypse. It's not that such Hollywood devastation is more obscene now -- mass death as a plot point was always obscene. It's that we've seen comparable obscenity on TV, for real, and we fear that we may see worse. The Sum of All Fears may not have set out to trade on the dread of the day, but it's going to do just that.

If released in a calmer world, the movie would be received and understood, if not necessarily enjoyed, as yet another piece of militaristic pulp from the factory of Tom Clancy, in which only one ingenious American can avert catastrophe. That American, Jack Ryan, has presided over numerous Clancy novels and three previous movie adaptations: The Hunt for Red October, with Alec Baldwin, and Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger, with Harrison Ford. Here, in Paramount's attempt to reinvigorate the franchise, Ryan has been dunked in the fountain of youth, from which a dripping and tentative Ben Affleck emerges. Affleck's uncertainty about whether he can shoulder a movie series translates well into this callower Ryan's insecurity about being forced into situations beyond political analysis. Ryan's self-deprecating instincts may be wrong, but Affleck's are correct. He belongs in smaller, more intimate and conversational movies.

We've got another of those global crises: A low-yield nuclear bomb has wound up in the hands of a Fascist (Alan Bates, expostulating over a steady stream of cigarettes) who plans to start a nuclear war between America and an unstable Russia. The new Russian President Nemerov (Ciarán Hinds) comes on strong -- a rhetorical "hardliner" -- but Ryan suspects that forces beyond Nemerov's control may be shaping his decisions; conveniently, Ryan wrote a paper on Nemerov and seems to be the only American who understands him. Even the American president (James Cromwell) and CIA director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) look askance at Ryan's defense of Nemerov, even after the bomb -- stashed in a cigarette machine in Baltimore's football stadium (this is an anti-smoking movie if ever there was one) -- goes off and brings both countries to the brink.

What follows the big bang is a great, tedious deal of rushing around and arguing. Ryan dashes into the fray, sometimes accompanied by Liev Schreiber as a dead-eyed agent who seems to belong in an earlier breed of spy movie. Directed, unaccountably, by the erratic Phil Alden Robinson (who made the sentimental gem Field of Dreams and the amusing caper film Sneakers), the movie collapses into scenes of manufactured tension and paranoia, culminating in one of those wonderfully dull face-offs in which the antagonists ... type at each other.

'The Sum of All Fears' won't go down in history as anything much. As things calm down, it will be filed away as a franchise movie that avoids asking the most basic question: If we're worried about how many nuclear weapons are out there, presumably lying around for the picking by terrorists and God knows who else, shouldn't we be thinking about making sure there are fewer of the things to pick from?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5927&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/10/07 16:26:20
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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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