Film Review: Have nothing to fear, 'Sum' is good

    f you’ve seen the trailer for “”The Sum of All Fears,”” you’ve already seen the movie. Enough said. The political thriller staring Ben Affleck (“”Dogma””) and Morgan Freeman (“”Shawshank Redemption””) has made Hollywood nervous, so a little too much is given away in the previews. The film, however, has got more to it than meets the eye.

    Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

    “”The Sum of All Fears”” has been adapted to the silver screen from Tom Clancy’s novel of the same name. Yet, the character of Jack Ryan (Affleck) is younger than in previous films when Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford played the character.

    The terrorists of the film have also changed. As the movie unfolds, it becomes apparent that neo-Nazis are plotting to cause Russia and America to destroy each other over an unclaimed nuclear explosion, and it is up to Ryan to stop them.

    Affleck does an admirable job playing Ryan. As a young, inexperienced version of the agent, he is essentially acting in territory that Baldwin and Ford didn’t have to deal with. Affleck nevertheless maintains the cinematic cliches of a CIA agent, being sleek bodied, quick-witted and quite a ladies’ man.

    As Ryan’s superior, William Cabot, one would hope that Freeman plays a more complex role. Audiences will find it amusing to watch the senior agent toy with Ryan. But then, if you’ve seen the trailer you would know that. What you wouldn’t know is that Freeman’s character never becomes more complex than that.

    Yes, he is good at his job. He can manipulate his own superiors and he loves his country, but the reasoning behind all of this is left unexplained.

    “”The Sum of All Fears”” does have its redeeming qualities. The banter between Ryan and his fellow CIA experts about Russian politics runs like a humorous dialogue among soap opera fans. The humor of the film does create interest for audience members, who would otherwise lose interest in the various Russian commanders and White House cronies.

    The movie is also visually appealing. To reflect the somber subject of the film, dark tones were incorporated in the cinematography that enhance the shadowy nature of the topics at hand. Equally powerful is the scene in which Ryan escapes the wrecked hull of a crashed helicopter amidst total, surreal silence.

    The weakness of “”The Sum of All Fears”” is U.S. president James Fowler, played by James Cromwell (“”Babe””), and his cabinet of merry men. The flighty, delusional nature of the characters once disaster strikes is meant to convey panic and inexperience, but the result is just annoying.

    “”The Sum of All Fears”” is unique in that it doesn’t shirk a powerful topic and instead depicts global terrorism with its full nuclear capabilities. Then again, if you’ve seen the trailer, you would already know that.

    The Sum of All Fears

    ***

    Starring Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman

    In theaters May 31

    Rated PG-13

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