The Sum of All Fears Review

It’s time for a really fun espionage movie with a lot of tensions between Russia and the USA. That always makes for a really fun premise right off the gate but of course the key would be if the writers could capitalize on this. Fortunately they do and this movie makes for a very interesting watch. You should be at the front of your seat the whole time. When you’ve got quality characters and a good story then the pieces are all set for a fun time.

The movie kicks off with the Russian leader dying so now there is a new guy in charge. His name is Nemerov and in general this should be a good thing because he’s less of a hardliner so maybe things can start to deescalate. Unfortunately that doesn’t seem to be the case as their activities only seem to worsen as they even use a chemical weapon in a nearby battlefield. The U.S. has to carefully navigate their response to this so they don’t look too weak or too forceful. A big thing both countries are well aware of is the nuclear options they each have that would end all life on Earth. This is where Jack Ryan is called in. He needs to find out exactly what is going on here and additionally, must stop the impending World War III. Right now both countries are on a collision course but perhaps this is all due to someone’s master plan.

One of the reasons why this film stands out is they decided to play it straight with Jack not being a combat officer. He’s an analyst and so that’s what he does in this film. He plans things out, finds out info and tries to always help the country out in that kind of way. He will fight when he absolutely has to which does happen once or twice but he’s not running around guns loaded the whole time. I like my action heroes so I wouldn’t want that all of the time but it works well here. It’s a fun change of pace idea is the best way to put it.

Jack is also a fairly bold character. I like how he has some good back and forth dialogue with Nemerov. Most characters would have backed off but Jack didn’t. Jack was also willing to give his two cents even while the President of the U.S. was in the room. Jack is not lacking in confidence that’s for sure. The deck was really stacked against him most of the time with how much all the characters would get in his way but he didn’t let up.

If anything the only part of the plot that’s really more on the weak side is the romance. Right now he’s dating Catherine but there is a little tension with how his true job causes him to have to go on a short notice from time to time. This whole plot could have just been sidelined to be honest. All the romance moments just feel squeezed in here just to have them when they don’t really enhance the plot at all. Cut them out and the film would be all the stronger for it. Either way 99% of the movie is completely unrelated.

Meanwhile on the Russian side I thought Nemerov made for an interesting antagonist. Basically there is only so much that he can do on his end because there are a lot of Russian dissidents who are against him. So they are causing trouble and framing him for things but he knows that if he goes public with this that it’ll be a sign of weakness and he will be taken out. So he has to play the role of the villain even if it means destroying everything and it’s difficult to claw his way out of that. He’s a fairly strategic character but one without any great options.

On the US side Cabot gets a big role and I thought he was really good. He may not be quite as savvy as Jack on exactly what is going on in Russia but he makes up for this with experience. Cabot plays things by the book and doesn’t take anything personal even if it means that he won’t be very popular in the office. He just does whatever he can to make the country safer in his eyes and it’s not an easy task. Then there is Clark who is more of a field operative compared to Jack. It’s rare to get a big subplot like this in these films but that was fun. I liked the way that he carried himself and Clark could easily be the main character in a different series.

Then you have the President who gets a little emotional but carries himself well. While he is one of the characters who doesn’t buy into Jack’s story about Nemerov you can’t really blame him. It does feel like a longshot to say that he’s not actually responsible. One guy calls Jack an apologist and that is how it would sound to everyone hearing his story. Jack doesn’t have anything close to real evidence that he could use to support his side of the story which puts him in a really rough position. I wouldn’t have believed Jack if I was in that room because he didn’t make any kind of strong case at all. It was an appeal to your emotions which is not the best way to make a case.

A good chunk of the movie has the heroes debating on what to do and how to proceed. It’s nice to see this because you expect that there would be a whole lot of discussion before making any decision once it looks like things are leading up to a war. There are pros and cons to each decision as well so it’s not like this is an easy one. Whatever decision is made, the characters will end up having to live with it for better or worse. I tend to prefer an aggressive approach myself. The characters discuss the whole mutual destruction thing but that will always be a concern so you can’t let the enemy get away with things while using that as an excuse. Ultimately you have to plunge forward and stop them. If the world blows up then so be it but at least everyone will die together as opposed to you just watching as things get worse.

Overall, The Sum of All Fears is a great movie. I could easily recommend it to anyone because it’s just super balanced. Whether you want action, or interesting plot developments then you will be satisfied here. A lot is happening at all times and the characters are really pushed to the breaking point. This is not an easy adventure for anyone but I appreciated actually seeing the Russian side for a while and how the film was really taking the time to discuss tactics and repercussions on both sides. The film went as realistically as it could while keeping the pacing in-tact and that’s not easy. Honestly if you take the romance away this could even be a 9 star movie as it was almost perfect. Give me more political scenes instead and keep the focus on that. It’s just really engaging and the writing is on point. You definitely want to watch this movie.

Overall 8/10


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