#500/#51 The Sum of All Fears
Tensions are high between the Russians and the Americans when a new supposedly hardliner president comes to power in the USSR. When a lost Israeli nuclear bomb is also thrown into the mix by a third party trying to cause war between the factions, it is up to CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) to try and find who is responsible for what before somebody makes an irreversible decision.
Affleck is the weakest of all the actors to portray Jack Ryan. He’s not bad in the role, he just leaves the least impression after viewing. There wasn’t anything about him which makes him stand out from any generic action star in the way both Baldwin and Ford did. Maybe if he’d had another movie within which to grow the character he might have brought something to the part (like Ford managed) but as it is there is no great loss from this movie failing to revitalise the franchise.
Although this version of Ryan might be a bit of a dud, the story of Fears is probably the closest to recapturing the feel of Red October. Patriot Games was an action film and Clear and Present Danger was a political subterfuge but Fears is back to being a Cold War thriller. Like Danger though, it also does well in setting up a strong story only for it to not really deliver after the big “Oh Shit” moment. The action is still strong but it all gets a little silly after a point.
Ciaran Hinds and James Cromwell both do well as the Russian and American Presidents respectively. They both come across as likeable and strong people but they can also be clearly motivated by their emotions and events into making weighty decisions rashly. This made for a good sparing match when tensions are ramped up and really made it felt like it could go either way. Morgan Freeman was also good, filling much the same role as James Earl Jones in the previous movies, but didn’t really make that much of an impact on the story.
In the end I think the Sum of All Fears makes for a fairly enjoyable action flick but it’s not a particularity great Jack Ryan movie. I’m interested to see now if the second rebooting of the series later this year, with Chris Pine in the role, will be able to bring the franchise back or if it would be better just to let it die. 2/5