The Sum of All Fears

Dir: Phil Alden Robinson
Starring: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Ciaran Hinds

Trash City
Top 10:2002
In the eight years since the last Jack Ryan film, he has gone from 52 year-old Harrison Ford to 29 year-old Affleck. Ah, the magic of cinema: though as well as taking years off, it's also removed his wife and kids and dumped him back to being a junior CIA analyst. [Consider him an entirely different person, coincidentally named Jack Ryan; it solves most of the problems] After a wobbly start, featuring a very fake relationship, this finds its feet admirably, becoming extremely tense and, in the main, horribly plausible. For I think it's not a question of if terrorists explode a nuke in America, but when, though the real threat is unlikely to come, as here, from a 30-year old Israeli nuke wielded by unreconstructed Nazis.

Affleck is fairly nondescript, and benefits from excellent support: Freeman as his mentor, Liev Schreiber as field operative John Clark (also losing a decade or two since previous incarnation Willem Dafoe), plus Cromwell and Hinds as US and Russian presidents - Alias fans may also be surprised by the Secretary of State! It's the gradual escalation of hostilities that works, together with a show-stopping sequence in Baltimore which should give anyone post-9/11 goose-bumps. Despite anachronisms (look up 'electromagnetic pulse'), and having Ryan run through a firestorm as if he were Superman, the climax is fortunately not irreperably damaged; despite these mis-steps, the movie breathes new life into the franchise. Jack Ryan is dead - long live Jack Ryan!


There goes the neighbourhood...
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