The Sum of All Fears is the cinematic brainchild of acclaimed author Tom Clancy, and features man with two first names, Jack Ryan in his fun, nutty adventures as he meets the new Russian president, bumbles phone calls with his girlfriend, and has a hard time understanding an old Black man. Then, he steals a car, crashes it, sexts a Russian stranger, and eventually earns the respect of his father figure, the president.
As of writing this review, Russia is at war with Ukraine, and there’s near daily talk of nuclear war. It’s anxiety-inducing and insanely frustrating, but in the back of everyone’s mind, we sort of know that we’ll be ok for the most part, and the massive gears of capitalism will never stop grinding. But… what would things look like if they did escalate? Or even more intriguing, what would Batman do if he had to solve international issues?
Fears is a slick, intelligent thriller, and it’s kind of silly that we don’t have more movies like this. Ryan proves himself to be a truly smart and critical thinker, able to fit the pieces of an international political puzzle together in a way that’s easy for the audience to follow, but also complex enough to be believable. Of course, Clancy is successful because of these same traits- building a complicated but convincing story about war, espionage, intelligence agencies and politics, so it makes sense.
The story itself is quick-paced, and follows the escalation of tensions between the US and Russia in real-time, and as a result, Ryan is always solving the issue one step too late, every time. He’s in a race against nuclear war as two weary, tired old world leaders wrestle with their own advisors to avoid annihilation. The climax is… anticlimactic. Ryan makes a phone call and uses talk-no-jutsu to save the day, but I mean. It’s better than ruining the damn thing with a stupid gunfight, unlike SOME idiot movies.
Y’all didn’t need to go so hard
I also noticed some interesting cinematic and directorial choices that really didn’t need to happen. Director Phil Robinson didn’t need to make the film look as aesthetically pleasing as it did, nor did he have to include poignant moments of stillness to sell the gravity of the situation.
The film didn’t need to take a moment to remind us that there are real people who are affected if a nuclear weapon is discharged, or to use camera footage to show us the bomb being planted instead of just having a traditional camera follow the action. None of it is too crazy or innovative, but I appreciate that they put in effort to make this a good film to watch, beyond the content of the story.
The Sum of All Fears is to the current political state of affairs as Contagion was to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, and John Krasinski have played Jack Ryan, and that was news to me.
You can stream The Sum of All Fears on Netflix.