The Sum of All Fears (2002) – Phil Alden Robinson

Ben Affleck steps into the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan as Paramount Pictures relaunches the Tom Clancy hero, yet again, in The Sum of All Fears. They make him younger, near the beginning of his career, and his relationship with Cathy (Bridget Moynahan).

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with relaunching a series, and Jack Ryan is a great character, and going back to the beginning of his career, I’m fine with that too, I love the Prime series, but they didn’t really have to reboot it, they could have carried on from Clear and Present Danger even without Harrison Ford returning as Ryan.

Tackling Clancy’s titanic novel is one thing, adapting it to the new movie timeline of Jack Ryan is another, and while the crux of the plot and story is the same, there are a lot of changes at work here as Jack, Cabot (Morgan Freeman) and asset John Clark (Liev Schreiber) race against the clock to track down a neo-Nazi faction led by Dressler (Alan Bates) who has been supplied by Olson (Colm Feore) with a nuclear weapon which was set off inside the continental United States.

He’s done this in an attempt to launch a war between America and Russia, while presidents Fowler (James Cromwell) and Nemerov (Ciaran Hinds) gear their countries up for retaliation and war, Ryan has to find a way to prove Russia’s innocence and stop Dressler before war is inescapable.

Featuring a very recognizably Jerry Goldsmith score, Phil Alden Robinson does his best to deliver a solid techno-thriller but with so many story threads, something like this would have worked better in a limited series format.

I’ll be honest though, I don’t hate Affleck as Ryan. With a stronger script, this really could have launched Affleck as the new Ryan. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, and then once again, Paramount tried to reboot the series again twelve years later with Shadow Recruit and Chris Pine stepping into Ryan’s shoes.

For now, I think Ryan should stay away from the big screen, John Krasinski’s turn as Jack Ryan in the series of the same name is solid, the story, and characters have time to develop, and the techno-thriller aspect can really thrive in the limited series format.

Like the rest of the film series, The Sum of All Fears boasts a solid supporting cast, there’s a great number of performers in the film, Tom Clancy novels attract a lot of attention, the late author knew how to craft a techno-thriller and Jack Ryan is a great character, brought to life by a number of actors and countless readers’ imaginations.

There’s a reason the character and the stories have stayed relevant, and I do like these adaptations, I just hate the constant rebooting.

Still, they are fun entertainment for an afternoon watch.


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