The Sum of All Fears
4 out of 5 stars
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Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan adventures get a new spin in this fourth film, which recasts the character as a young newbie just starting out in the CIA, proving himself by quite literally saving the world. Ryan (Affleck) is drawn into the spotlight when a Russian politician (Hinds) he has studied abruptly ascends to the presidency. Suddenly Ryan is accompanying the CIA head (Freeman) to Moscow, arguing with the US President (Cromwell) and working with a CIA field operative (Schreiber) to track down a lost nuclear bomb that might be headed for a major US city.

The subject matter is eerily relevant, and as a result it's gripping to see the spy network spin behind the scenes to keep one step ahead of the bad guys. Like other Jack Ryan movies, this is a big, complicated story with action taking place on multiple levels and at several locations simultaneously. Director Robinson juggles it adeptly and coherently, keeping the tension high and also making sure it feels utterly real. The screenplay cleverly weaves together both the high drama and earthy reality, while seamlessly rewriting Ryan for the younger actor. And Affleck is surprisingly good. After a series of missteps, he finds a role that suits him perfectly, drawing on his intelligence and accessibility and avoiding the action heroics that would have made the film feel very silly. Taut support from Freeman, Cromwell and a truckload of stellar character actors adds weight to every scene, while the lone female Moynahan (as Ryan's tentative girlfriend) adds humour and nicely understated romance. This is gripping, gruelling, relatively shocking stuff. And wonderfully entertaining cinema.

cert 15tbc themes, violence, language 17.Jun.02

dir Phil Alden Robinson
scr Paul Attanasio, Daniel Pyne
with Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Liev Schreiber, Bridget Moynahan, Ciaran Hinds, Colm Feore, Alan Bates, Michael Byrne, Philip Baker Hall, Ron Rifkin, Bruce McGill
release US 31.May.02; UK 16.Aug.02
02/US 2h05

Hotline. Ryan (Affleck) risks his neck at the Pentagon to save the world...

affleck freeman cromwell schreiber
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one of our nukes is missing send your review to Shadows... "I am a Tom Clancy fan - I think I have read all of this books and I enjoy how he has three or four subplots going, and you keep jumping from one to another - sometimes reading through one plot really fast to get to the one you REALLY want to follow. That said, I have yet to really enjoy movie adaptations of his novels - there is too much to condense to a two-hour movie. You can only delete so much and still keep the scope of the book. Also, in the wake of the destruction of the World Trade Center by terrorists hijacking airplanes, this is kinda spooky, and maybe a bit in bad taste. Still I went to the movie. This is a prequel to the previous Clancy movies, where Harrison Ford plays Jack Ryan. Here the young Ryan is played by Ben Affleck - he has not yet married his doctor wife [Moynahan]. While I feel they did an adequate job and kept most of the book's feel - I don't feel they quite got it all. It is not the worst movie out there, but I can't say I really liked it. Affleck was good, though as a nerdy Ryan who writes reports and really does not do the action stuff. The John Clark character [Schreiber] is more of a bit part here, but a major role in the novels. I guess I would say wait until this is on cable." --Laurie T, Minneapolis 1.Jun.02.
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall