Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Movie Review: The Sum of All Fears

The title of this movie (and the book it's loosely based on) refers to the threat of mutually assured destruction of the United States and Russia by nuclear holocaust. In the book the two superpowers face off after a nuclear device is set off in Denver, Colorado by PFLP terrorists; in the movie the bomb is set off in Baltimore by Neo-Nazi terrorists. It's interesting (and disappointing) to see that even before the September 11 attacks that it wasn't politically correct to depict an Arab as a terrorist.[1]

My verdict: I wasn't that impressed. This movie would've been more interesting had the Russian president considered something like what happens in the movie Fail-Safe.[2] The acting is mostly functional. Though Ben Affleck's acting is in no way impressive, this is still a step up from most of his other work. He was comparable to Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October, but he still fails to play Jack Ryan as well as Harrison Ford did in Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.[3] The terrorists' decision to detonate the nuke in a football stadium (in both book and movie) was rather ludicrous. Those things have a pretty big blast radius, you know—you can save yourself the trouble of trying to sneak such a thing into the stadium.


[1] This movie was released in 2002, but the decision to replace Muslim terrorists with Neo-Nazis had already been made before the September 11 attacks. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The Sum of All Fears (film)#Deviations from the book.

[2] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fail-Safe (1964 film).

[3] However, Liev Schreiber makes a better John Clark than Willem Dafoe.

Image attributions:

Nuclear explosion is by the National Nuclear Security Administration—Nevada Site Office (United States Department of Energy), available at http://www.nv.doe.gov/library/photos/photodetails.aspx?ID=1036.

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