The Sum of all Fears

As a child of the late Cold-War era, I recall the tensions between the East and West powers and how to many a pending war was seen as inevitable between the two. Flash forward to the modern era and things have changed considerably. The Eastern block foes are now Democracies, and several have entered into NATO becoming allies rather than potential adversaries. I myself have some very close friends who are either from, or descendants from the former Soviet Union, and have found that they are closer in many beliefs and customs than many of our allies in Europe, and that the negative propaganda issued by both sides during the Cold-War only served to establish stereotypes that kept people of both nations in the dark about the other.

With the tragic events of September 11th still at the forefront of the news, the threat of a rogue nuclear device being smuggled into a nation and detonated has become a major concern for many. I recall a documentary once that issued the chilling statement that if you have a million dollars, then you likely can buy a nuclear device from nations where corruption or government transitions are in affect. It is this frightening backdrop that inspired the Tom Clancy novel the Sum of all Fears.

In the film of the same name, Ben Affleck follows Harrison Ford and Alec Baldwin in the role of CIA analyst Jack Ryan. The film does a bit of a James Bond flip by casting a younger actor in the role yet setting the events in modern day, however it is great to see the how the younger Ryan rose to his top status. At the outset of the film, Ryan has not yet risen to his lofty status as the top analyst as he was in the previous films; instead he is low member of a group that creates intelligence reports for his superiors. A surprise election of a new President in Russia brings Ryan into the forefront, as he had done an in-depth study of the new Russian President prior to his political rise and is now tasked with bringing his superiors up to speed on the new leader.

Against this backdrop is a mix of events combine to take the world to the height of war. A Neo-Nazi has obtained a nuclear bomb, and sets a dastardly plan into motion. Combined this chilling event with factions in the Russian military launching a chemical missile attack on a rebellious republic and the tensions are escalating worldwide pushing nations to the brink of war. Naturally Ryan has to uncover the truth and save the world from war in an ever-escalating situation. There are many other clever sub-plots that all combine to make this a gripping and effective thriller. There are some very intense scenes in the film as there was a 30-minute stretch in the film where the audience was in shocked silence over events. James Cromwell and Morgan Freeman are fantastic in their supporting roles and Affleck shines in the role making a seamless transition into the franchise. While the film does have some plot holes, it is for the most part a gripping and chilling thriller that will leave you entertained and is a welcome addition to a summer lineup that has given viewers some great entertainment already.

4 stars out of 5