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The Sum of All Fears is a 2002 American action film/political thriller directed by Phil Alden Robinson and based on a book of the same name by Tom Clancy. The film is a reboot of the Jack Ryan film series taking place in 2002 and featuring a much younger Jack Ryan. Starring Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman, it was released by Paramount Pictures in the United States on May 31st, 2002.


1973, during the Yom Kippur War, an Israeli A-4 Skyhawk jet carrying a nuclear weapon is shot down; 29 years later, a Syrian scrap collector uncovers a large unexploded bomb buried in a field in the Golan Heights. He sells it to a South African black market arms trafficker named Derek Olson, who recognizes it as the nuclear bomb that was lost during the war. He then sells it to a fascist group led by Austrian billionaire and neo-Nazi Richard Dressler, whose aim is to start a nuclear war between the United States and Russia that will devastate them both, and leave a united Fascist Europe to rule the world.

CIA analyst Jack Ryan is summoned by CIA Director William Cabot to accompany him to Russia to meet President Alexander Nemerov. In Moscow, Cabot and Ryan are allowed to examine a Russian nuclear weapons facility as prescribed by the START treaty, where Ryan notices the absence of three scientists listed on the facility's roster. Cabot sends operative John Clark to Russia to investigate. Clark tracks the missing scientists to a former Soviet military facility in Ukraine, where Cabot suspects they are building a secret nuclear weapon that Russia could use without any way to trace it back to them.

Ryan and his colleagues discern that a crate from the facility in Ukraine was flown to the Canary Islands, then sent to Baltimore on a cargo ship. Ryan warns Cabot, who is attending a football game (implied to be the Super Bowl) in Baltimore with President Robert Fowler, about a bomb threat. The President is evacuated before the bomb detonates, but the city is destroyed and Cabot is killed. To escalate the situation, a corrupt Russian Air Force general who has been paid by Dressler sends Tu-22M Backfires to attack the USS John C. Stennis in the North Sea.

Ryan learns from the radiation assessment team that the isotopic signature from the nuclear blast pinpoints it as having been manufactured at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina in 1968; evidence which seems to exonerate the Russians. In Syria, Clark tracks down Ghazi, one of the men who found the bomb, now dying of radiation exposure. He tells Clark that he sold the bomb to Olson, who lives in Damascus. Ryan's colleagues at Langley infiltrate Olson's computer and download files that implicate Dressler as the person who bought the plutonium and who is behind the Baltimore attack.

Ryan is able to reach the National Military Command Center in The Pentagon and get a message to Nemerov, saying that he knows that Russia was not behind the attack, while also asking Nemerov to stand down his forces as a show of good faith. Nemerov agrees to do so as President Fowler follows suit. The participants in the conspiracy, including Dressler, are assassinated. Presidents Fowler and Nemerov announce new measures to counter nuclear proliferation in joint speeches at the White House, as Ryan and his fiancée Dr. Catherine Muller listen in. Spinnaker gives them a present for their engagement



The Sum of All Fears received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 59% of critics gave the film positive reviews and that the average rating was 6.00/10 based on a total of 174 reviews counted. The consensus was that the film was "A slick and well-made thriller that takes on new weight due to the current political climate."[1]

Roger Ebert, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the movie three-and-a-half stars out of four, saying "Director Phil Alden Robinson and his writers, Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne, do a spellbinding job of cranking up the tension, they create a portrait of convincing realism, and then they add the other stuff because, well, if anybody ever makes a movie like this without the obligatory Hollywood softeners, audiences might flee the theater in despair."[2]

Tom Clancy served as executive producer on the film, and regarding the changes from his book, jokingly introduced himself in the commentary track on the DVD release as “the author of the book that he [director Phil Alden Robinson, who is present with Clancy] ignored”. Nevertheless, he complained about technical inaccuracies throughout the film in the commentary.[3]


See Also


  1. Wikipedia