*** Official "THE SUM OF ALL FEARS" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, May 30, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "The Sum of all Fears". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.
    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!
    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an Official Discussion Thread.
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. Aaron Garman

    Aaron Garman Second Unit

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    Hello all. Just saw the film and I must say that it is fantastic. All around good acting, great plot, excellent directing, and an amazing score from maestro Jerry Goldsmith. The most amazing aspect of this film is that it really scares me in that it feels very plausible in this present day of age. Hopefully we'll never have to see these events come to pass. Hope you all enjoy the film!

    Aaron Garman
     
  3. Ben Osborne

    Ben Osborne Second Unit

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    I think that The Sum of All Fears is predictable and cinematically lazy. It has the feel of an HBO original movie, with most of the action taking place off-screen while the characters talk about it in the war room. Even action that does take place on-screen, like John Clark assassinating someone, is truncated and anticlimactic.
    The characters are mostly uncharismatic and unmemorable. Affleck's Jack Ryan is the most unlikable Ryan yet, and his courtship with Cathy is uninteresting and tacked-on. As John Clark, Liev Schreiber is a stiff with no personality. His jokes ("I gotta get one of those. I don't even have email!") fall flat. The only bright spot here is Morgan Freeman as Bill Cabot, whose character is likable, but is ultimately a poor man's Admiral Greer.
    As a fan of the other Clancy movies, the only thing more insulting that this movie's many discontinuties with Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, and the Hunt for Red October, is its arrogant refusal to even try to explain any of them. Why not make just make it a prequel and set it in the early 90s, rather than have it take place at some nebulous time and place that doesn't fit in with established Clancy chronology?
    [​IMG] [​IMG] out of 4.
     
  4. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Hi all. Here's my take. Hope you enjoy it.
    The Sum of All Fears [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] (out of 5)
    I’m not really interested in politics. What I know about the current “war on terrorism” is limited to what the American media feeds me, and I’m not too concerned with how the new political thriller The Sum of All Fears – a film that features a horrific attack on American soil - will fare with audiences who are weaned daily on vaguely ominous “terror alerts”. Taken outside the context of the current political climate (see: terrorists are more evil than ever!), The Sum of All Fears is simply a well-made and satisfying potboiler, one that benefits from a superlative cast and a screenplay that often zigs when one expects a zag.
    The fourth film to be made from a Tom Clancy novel (following The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear & Present Danger), The Sum of All Fears takes various liberties, both with its source material and its own cinematic timeline (imagine the upcoming Die Another Day with a 26-year-old James Bond), but as a stand-alone entry – as opposed to a pure “sequel” – the film is well-crafted and entertaining enough to forgive a few potholes.
    The focus of The Sum of All Fears is one misplaced nuclear warhead, and the path it takes from buried beneath the Israeli desert to its eventual destination in the United States’ East Coast. The U.S. president and most of his advisors believe that the threat comes from a Russian source, but wet-behind-the-ears CIA analyst Jack Ryan seems to know different. Paired up with senior agent Bill Cabot, Ryan promptly learns the high-pressure protocol of military intelligence as his well-researched advice is all but ignored by the powers-that be. Ryan’s suspicions are, of course, right on the money and he is then invited to accompany Cabot on a Russian nuclear inspection. The absence of three Russian scientists supports Ryan’s theories, and the inexperienced desk jockey quickly finds himself locked in a globetrotting search for answers.
    When we last saw Jack Ryan, he was played by Harrison Ford. This time around, Ben Affleck has the role, and acquits himself moderately well, delivering a likable character while offering very little in actual screen presence. (To say Ben Affleck is at his best in “people” movies is a massive understatement.) Fortunately, Affleck has a stellar supporting cast to fill in the blanks, and the film’s best moments repeatedly come from rapid-fare banter between the various stressed-out analysts, politicians, and advisors.
    Although Affleck is front and center in full “hero” mode, The Sum of All Fears is overloaded with superlative character actors. Aside from the ever-reliable Morgan Freeman, the colorful roster also includes James Cromwell (L.A. Confidential) as the U.S. President, Philip Baker Hall (Magnolia) as an intense Defense Secretary, and Bruce McGill (Lawn Dogs) as a National Security Advisor. In a relatively smaller role, Live Schreiber (Scream 3) manages to steal a few scenes as a mysterious operative named John Clark. As Ryan’s fetching fiancée, Bridget Moynahan (Coyote Ugly) is suitably lovable, although she suffers from an underwritten role that all but disappears in the movie’s second half.
    The Sum of All Fears feels considerably less generic than its two predecessors, thanks mainly to a deft directorial touch by Phil Alden Robinson. Previously known for smaller flicks like Field of Dreams and Sneakers, Robinson brings a welcome sense of morality (and mortality) to the series, and as a result The Sum of All Fears seems more based in reality than do techno-soap operas like Patriot Games. The key here is not how bombs explode; it’s how these threats affect the characters around them.
    The Sum of All Fears may not be an action-packed affair (although there are more than a few solid action sequences), but Robinson manages to infuse a lot of intensity into scenes of political maneuvering, arguments and heated debate. The film is realistic enough to make the few surprises almost painfully effective, and the screenplay adaptation (by Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne) keeps the “dry spots” few and far between.
    Though the depressingly timely subject matter may seem a bit too close for comfort, any film deserves to be judged on its own merits and not on the political climates in which it is released. Some may claim that releasing a film like this smacks of ghoulish opportunism, but let’s be fair; the novel was written over ten years ago, and the movie adaptation has been in production for over two years. And The Sum of All Fears is way too well-made to be shelved forever.
    It’s understandable that some may want to avoid this kind of fiction altogether, but I’m guessing that The Sum of All Fears will be a big hit. General audiences will seek to quell their fears by living vicariously through terrorist-hunter Jack Ryan, and will appreciate the fact that The Sum of All Fears is (unlike Arnie’s recent terrorist-laden Collateral Damage) a well-made and entertaining affair that packs one hell of a punch.
     
  5. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    I didn't want to like this movie going in, but I was very curious to see the "new" Jack Ryan. Imagine my surprise when I walked out at the end thinking it was actually a decent movie. Not great, but not the disaster I was expecting. Sure, there are some points that made me go "Hmmmmm...":
    would cell phones, let alone any vehicle shown, actually work after a nuke detonates? EMP? Why was Jack's helicopter still in the air if it was close enough to be knocked down by the blast?


    Sure, Ben isn't Harrison Ford, but who is? It was worth my time and $5.50 IMO.
     
  6. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    A [​IMG] [​IMG] disappointment.
    The Sum Of All Fears purports itself to be a suspenseful action film when in reality it has very little suspense and virtually no action. It is predictably plotted with nary a memorable scene or an original thought.
    I was surprised at how dull the first half of the film is, and how predictably cliched the last half was. Oil and water.
    Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan seemed miscast. It's not that he did a terrible job, but I didn't for one minute believe in his character. As a matter of fact, all the supporting actors in this film give dull by the numbers performances with the exception of Liev Schreiber who gives the film best performance and also the smallest.
    The entire film seemed to remind me of much better films, like HBO's By Dawns Early Light, a similar, much more powerful film.
    The audience I saw the film with was very quiet throughout, especially during one particular scene which in the wake of 9-11, is unfortunately very uncomfortable to watch. I think many other viewers felt much as I did based on the comments I heard after it was over. The words "Dull, boring, dopey, dragged out and puhh-leeze" were the most often repeated.
    Definitely the WORST of the Jack Ryan films. The Sum of All Fears=One Mediocre Film.[​IMG]
     
  7. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    SoAF was good, not great, not awful. How much difference can one man make? In the aftermath of a horrific event on US soil, how does the US government respond?

    I thought Ben Affleck was okay, but his performance didn't make go "Whoa, he owns this role!" The rest of the cast are good, though mainly position players, not much in depth characterizations for many of the players. The film felt a little "distant" in its subject matter, so it wasn't entirely gripping and overly dramatic as it could have been. Maybe that was a good thing, I'm not sure. I didn't like the Liev Schreiber portrayal as John Clark, just wasn't good casting in my eyes. Think Clint Eastwood in "Firefox" for what I think John Clark should have been.

    All in all, I give it a 2.75 stars, or a grade of B-.
     
  8. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

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    I'm also in the so-so camp here. Politics bore me in general, so the scenes in which our President is trying to show down a hard-line Communist were flat and lifeless for me. Then there are the scenes which harp on things like "chain of command", "operating procedures", "levels of escalations", etc, etc...and I'm sitting there thinking "Yeah, but who's to say that this is actually how things work?", so a film that built alot around its "credibility" didn't have enough to push that aspect of it. However, the scenes depicting the detonation and its aftermath were very realistic and very harrowing. But, it was also the climax of the film...after that, it petered out into a yawn inducing finale that lacked any plausiblity. I just didn't, nay couldn't, buy the ending and that really left me feeling empty about the rest of the film.
    The Sum of All Fears [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Bruce
     
  9. Matt Pasant

    Matt Pasant Second Unit

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] 1/2 (out of 5)
    I loved Sum of All Fears on every level. I must admit, perhaps my favorite genre is spy movies, clock & dagger type stuff. This one had it all for me. I thought the casting was top notch, including Affleck.
    The first time I heard his name in conjunction with a Jack Ryan movie I thought Hollywood had lost its mind. However, that being said, I felt the prequel of the assention of Ryan was a very nice twist. Harrison Ford is perhaps my favorite actor but he was not Jack Ryan. His Ryan was lifeless, dull, boring, and old. Alec is still my Jack Ryan but Affleck is a close #2. He is not a gung-ho Rambo action hero like some here want him to be, he is a Ph.D. analyst. Someone who obsesses over whether the President of Russia is a few pounds heavier than normal. He uses his savy and brains to work through problems, yet has a hard time telling his girlfriend what he does for a living.
    The plot had me interested from the first moment and held me right up until the end. I thought the depiciton of a nuclear detanation was spooky. Not too long ago it would have been just a silly thought, but in todays day and age who knows. But the movie depends on the chaos that follows.
    How would we as a nation react? How would the President act? How would the military industrial complex act? I thought the tit for tat between the Americans and Russians highlighted the folly of nuclear war well. Niether wanted to do it but the rules they made for their game only allowed for mutual assured destruction. Both having to "defend" their way of life. This is where the movie really had me sucked in.
    For these reasons I truly enjoyed the film and look forward to its release on dvd.
    -- Matt
     
  10. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    I thought it was pretty bad...though I won't say awful because it does have some redeeming qualities and some moments worth seeing.

    While I like that the bomb goes off relatively early (sooner than I would have guessed), the string of cliches, tired moments, screaming about going to Defcon 1 and all that boring blather, not only smacked too much of "Wargames" but came off as dull when it was supposed to be building suspense. Add to that, most of the "conflict" of the second half of the film took place in board rooms and/or on the phone!

    Wait for the DVD. The explosion alone on your home system should be worth the rental.
     
  11. Jim A. Banville

    Jim A. Banville Supporting Actor

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    I can't believe anyone who saw this didn't like it! Well, the same people probably LOVED Attack of the Clones, so it takes all kinds [​IMG] TSoAF's was an excellent movie! 4 out of 5 stars! I am NOT a Ben Affleck fan, but he did NAIL (anyone tired of that cliched word yet) the character of Jack Ryan. Why do most people always mention Harrison Ford when discussing that character, but never mention Alec Baldwin? Cuz, he NAILED the character in THfRO too! But I digress ... Go see TSoAF's today! You'll thank me [​IMG] BEST Jack Ryan film to date!
     
  12. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    It's almost impossible to give an objective review of The Sum Of All Fears; almost anyone who will see it has some amount of attachment to the book or the previous movies. The Sum Of All Fears is my favorite of Clancy's novels; I remember reading the last 300 pages or so in one sitting because it was just that gripping.
    So I'll keep it short, because otherwise I'll get into "why'd they change this?", and I come to praise The Sum Of All Fears, not bury it.
    It's a relatively decent adaptation; it streamlines the story as is necessary to convert a dense 800 page book to a two hour movie. Affleck's Ryan isn't really the character from the book (really, none of the characters with the same names are), but then again, you can say the same about Sean Connery's Jame Bond.
    Taken on its own, TSOAF is a very good thriller. It occasionally forgets that and tries to be an action movie, which it doesn't do particularly well, but when the last act puts you inside the American and Russian war rooms, shows you the speed at which world leaders must think and act in a crisis situation, real tension is generated. It's when the movie resists the Hollywood temptation to reduce the fate of the free world to a fistfight that it excels.
    Is it perfect? Not hardly. Bridget Moynihan is in the movie as Ryan's girlfriend for no apparent reason other than "there needs to be a woman in the movie". The villains are plot devices rather than intriguing, motivated adverseries; thankfully, they're kept mostly to the side. The turning point of the movie is oddly muted, though I'm not sure how director Phil Alden Robinson could have shown us more without making it an FX set-piece and less horrific.
    But it is tense and relatively smart. It's not an action movie, but a thriller, and while it changes many of the details of the book, it does retain the most essential ingredient: The boiler-room last act, where disaster may come because there's no time to step back and think about the situation rationally.
    Ultimately, I liked the movie, but I'll readily admit it's in a bit of a catch-22: There's a great chance that those who would like it have already read the much more detailed, intense novel that inspired it.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  13. Shad R

    Shad R Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] out of 5 for me!
    While I'm not really a fan of the Clancey movies(and I haven't read this book either), I really liked this movie! Ben Affleck did something I've never seen him do before...ACT! Ben turns in a great performance as Jack Ryan, the up and comming CIA agent who has to stop the U.S from bombing Russia due to mis-information. Morgan Freeman was great as well. I thought this was going to be a balls to the walls action movie (that's how it's advertised) but I was pleasantly surprised by how much deeper this movie was. I rather liked all of the decisions that Ryan, the President and his cabinet must make. It held my interest when the U.S and Russia were going back and forth, with Jack trying to intervene. Since I have never seen and don't like spy/espionage/political thrillers at all, this stuff didn't seem cliche(thought it probably is) My first reaction was that the villains sucked, but then I realized it wasn't about the villains, it was about Russia and the U.S going back and forth with each other, while Ryan tried to stop both sides from making a huge mistake. Good acting, good directing and one scene is worth the price of admission alone(although I wished they didn't ruin it in the tralers!) Go see this at a theater with a good sound system, too, trust me!
     
  14. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Lead Actor

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    Well, I thought it was better than so-so, but it wasn't great either. It takes place in an alternate universe from the previous Jack Ryan films, so don't expect an ounce of continuity. Taken on that basis, I enjoyed it, even if it's science and logic failed a few times.

    Ben acquitted himself well, and Morgan Freeman did a lot with a little (although nothing in here would be on a highlight role of his). I agree with Jason...the girl wasn't needed to the story, but she was involved (tangentially) in a few good jokes. I did chuckle quite a bit in the film...mostly thanks to Ben and Morgan.

    I had lots of little beefs, but no BIG ones. All in all, a decent film. I'd see a second Clancy film starring Affleck. That's all I can say.

    Take care,
    Chuck
     
  15. Mark E J

    Mark E J Second Unit

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  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Members,
    This thread is for HTF member reviews only, so if you want to discuss plot points about this film then please do so in this thread. Otherwise, I will simply delete your discussion posts from this thread. Thank you.
    Crawdaddy
     
  17. Brajesh Upadhyay

    Brajesh Upadhyay Supporting Actor

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    [​IMG][​IMG] (out of 5)
    I agree with Ben. Logic is out the door. Doesn't fit into the Clancy timeline or past Ryan movies. Affleck is miscast as Ryan. Did find the Baltimore event convincingly terrifying, but what's with the happy ending knowing what just happened??!! Bad filmmaking -- at best, an average TV movie-of-the-week.
     
  18. Jeff Graebner

    Jeff Graebner Auditioning

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    The complexity and technical detail that is typical in Tom Clancy's stories have allowed them to translate into a series of very thoughtful films that tend to require a lot more concentration than the typical action thriller. This is very true once again with "Sum of All Fears", which I found to be among the best of the Clancy adaptations to date.

    It is difficult to gauge reaction to the movie without taking into account the events of last September. Had this film come out last summer instead of this one, I suspect that it would have seemed much less resonant and even quite a bit more far fetched. In the post-9/11 world, the film seems very relevant. Even with its shadows of real world events, though, the film still manages to entertain and excite. There is a very solid mix of suspense, appealing characters, and even humor. To be honest, I actually found it rather reassuring that I was still able to be entertained by this kind of story.

    In his first theatrical film since "Sneakers" in 1992, director Phil Alden Robinson manages to bring the same strong mix of suspense, emotion, and even some subtle comedy that he brought to that earlier film. The result is a film that feels more human and less mechanical than the last two Phillip Noyce directed Clancy adaptations. I really wish that Robinson (who also directed "Field of Dreams", one of my favorite films) worked more frequently.

    I've had mixed reactions to Ben Affleck's past performances, so I had some reservations about whether or not he would really be up to taking over the role of Jack Ryan. This film's version of the character is considerably younger and much less experienced than the versions played by Alec Baldwin (in "Hunt for Red October") and Harrison Ford (in "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger"). As a result, Affleck's basically cocky, overly self-assured attitude that can sometimes be off-putting in films served the character really well here. It is a different take on the character that leaves it hard to imagine him evolving into Baldwin or Ford's version, but he fits in well in this film.

    While Affleck's Ryan is definitely the central hero, this film does have an unusually large number of segments where his character isn't present at all or is just an observer. In some ways, this shifts Affleck's performance more towards being a prominent character-actor performance in an ensemble than really being a star performance in a summer action film. That might actually be the right niche for him.

    As the CIA director who takes Ryan under his wing, Morgan Freeman is once again playing the type of worldly, experienced father-figure that he frequently plays, but always seems to play very well. This role certainly isn't a major stretch for him but, as is typical for Freeman, he is always compelling. A subplot involving Ryan's budding romance with a young medical student really serves primarily to help humanize Freeman's character through the interest he shows in this component of Ryan's life.

    I feel that the real standout performance in this film is James Cromwell's portrayal of the US president. He creates one of the most human presidents that I have ever seen in a film. It is wonderful to see him not just agonizing over the need to make decisions with worldwide consequences, but also showing >frustration< at his own uncertainties. It is fascinating to see a film that depicts a president and his cabinet literally getting into impassioned shouting matches when stress and tension get high. I find that much more believable than the usual cool, calm discussions that we typically see in films. Cromwell shows us a president that clearly is a good man, but also prone to such human reactions as anger, confusion and stubbornness.

    The rest of the cast includes many talented character actors, all of whom help to bring the film to life. Such actors as Liev Shreiber, Alan Bates, Philip Baker Hall, and Bruce McGill lend a great deal of skillful support to this film.

    If the film has one key weakness, it is that its villains are not extremely well defined and, on occasion, make some stupid mistakes that strain credibility. In light of world events since they finished filming this last summer, the filmmakers may be relieved that the Arab terrorists of Clancy's novel were replaced in the film with European neo-Nazis. I'm undecided, though, about whether the original villains would have worked better in the context of the film.

    These minor complaints aside, this is an extremely compelling and thought-provoking film that ranks right up there with "The Hunt For Red October" among the Clancy adaptations. I recommend it very highly.

    -Jeff
     
  19. Rob P S

    Rob P S Screenwriter

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    ***1/2 out of ****
     

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