Oh look! Ben Affleck saves the world! AGAIN! Woo-hoo!**
Adapted from a Tom Clancy book (which is not so much a book, more of a doorstop with 1000+ pages), this sees Ben Affleck as CIA spook Jack Ryan on his way up: when the Russian president dies, Ryan is dispatched to Russia to find out more. But then he stumbles onto a saga of missing nuclear scientists, weapons smuggling and America’s ultimate nightmare: a nuke on their own soil ready to kill millions. And its up to Affleck to save the day. And if he can’t save the day, he might just have to save the world….before it all goes up in little mushroom clouds.
I mean, Theres very few things in this post 9-11 world that can shock, apparently. This film is apparently one of them, mainly because though made, shot and 95% completed before then, it’s being accused of exploitation of that disaster due to its graphic middle section of a devastating terrorist attack on the US.
If there’s one thing America’s scared of, its that the worst – the unimaginable – might happen. That a nuke might just get smuggled into the US, that terrorists might just set it off….That makes this film a fascinating piece of sociology if nothing else. If this film failed to entertain, then that wouldn’t matter, but it does. The explosion itself is one of the biggest ‘fuck me!’ moments of modern cinema, and it’s a powerful and devastating sequence that its all too easy to criticise for being exploitational, until you realise that I)The terrorists in the film were changed from being Islamic (as in the book) to prevent uproar (the kind of uproar that saw 1998’s “the Siege” being picketed at cinemas) and ii) The book was published over 10 years ago. But of course, that’s not the point….
As spy thrillers go, This is directed with flair and as tensions continue to escalate and the world finds itself on the brink of war, it’s easy to ignore plot holes, or a complete lack of continuity : Nonetheless, what we have here is a high-class spy thriller replete with loads of detail, a genuine and palpable sense of danger and tension, and even after the films big money shot, it then cranks up the tension higher still. It’s far from a date movie, but its certainly a turning point, not simply in showing us that Ben Affleck can play a decent hero-type, but in breaking the big taboo of American cinema and here all those cliches are exploded – as is something else. Intelligent, relevant and timely, not to mention far superior to the likes of say, Spy Game or the usual churn of Hollywood no-brainer action movies, Sum Of All fears is a film that poses a big ‘What if?’ that will resonate in your mind long after the final reel. And that’s far more than the next Hollywood production-line blockbuster movie will achieve….
8Graham Reed's Score