Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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Jack Ryan 5- Film Collection: The Sum of All Fears
Paramount has really been on a roll lately with their big name catalog franchises. Transformers, Gladiator, Saving Private Ryan, Mission Impossible, Tomb Raider and now the entire Jack Ryan series in one big boxset. This time around I'm going to be doing something different. Instead of reviewing the boxset as a whole, I"ll be reviewing each individual film in the boxset (they're only available IN the boxset, not individually) so that you can compare and contrast the films in a more detailed manner. To to continue on with the backwards trend, we go back in time to 2002's The Sum of All Fears
It’s amusing how these things go. Before Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit we had ANOTHER prequel to the Jack Ryan legacy. Back in 2002 people realized Harrison Ford couldn’t go on with the franchise and Paramount decided to get a young and hot Ben Affleck to take over, but due to the age difference they made the film a prequel to when he was a junior analyst as the agency. When it first came out I HATED The Sum of All Fears due to a rabid love of Harrison Ford and a distinct drop in quality between Clear and Present Danger and this one. However, looking back in retrospect, The Sum of All Fears really wasn’t bad at all. In fact, it’s actually a pretty fun spy movie, and a decent enough Jack Ryan film. It just had the misfortune of starring Ben Affleck BEFORE he became a director and good actor, and the Russian bad guy story line that Clancy had penned was fading from popularity. 16 years later I have a new appreciation for the film, and while I’ll never think it’s top tier Jack Ryan, it’s a very watchable film. This 4K UHD release boosts the abysmal transfer that Paramount gave the Blu-rays, but like many of their titles, have kept the same Dolby TrueHD track that was on the older discs.
The big controversy surrounding The Sum of All Fears back in 2002 was, well, because they forgot to include Tom Clancy’s book “The Sum of All Fears”! It was funny, but kind of not so funny at the same time. Fans of the book were shocked to find out that the movie they were watching was like 90% new material and almost none of the plot actually played homage to the actual novel. Even Clancy’s audio commentary shows him making some scathing remarks about director Phil Alden’s choice to deviate so far from the source material. Still, it’s a decently fun flick that really tried to reinvent the character for a modern day, with sometimes good, and sometimes negative results.
The film keeps the barest of minimum plot points with the novel, but still makes the general idea of the book known. In the book it was a fairly complex analysis of the end of the cold war, with a new era Russia on the verge of taking over from the incumbent KGB era forces, and their interactions with America as Allies rather than enemies. To make matters worse, rogue middle eastern forces are coming into play and trying to gain their own nuclear sources from the crumbling Kremlin (which turn out to be Neo Nazis in the film), and their role in becoming a dominant super power of evil in world that no longer has the big bad villain of Russia to deal with (although it’s kind of ironic as the whole “Russian meddling” is a huge hot topic today, and Putin and his band of merry Russians are now the “bad guys” once more).
I can’t put my finger on it, but The Sum of All Fears is even more of an oddball Jack Ryan film than Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. It’s less spy work than all of the others, and the action is that strange style that couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be modern, or whether it still wanted to emulate the awesome 90s action fights. I guess Phil Alden’s desire to take so much of Clancy’s original book and throw it out has a lot to do with it, but it’s a conflicting film. I really do like the movie, and it’s a fun flick, but as a Jack Ryan film it sadly misses the mark.
Rated PG-13 for violence, disaster images and brief strong language
4K Video: Video:
On a technical level, The Sum of All Fears is the sharpest looking and cleanest of the first four films. It was made years later, and naturally has a bit of an advantage over 90s film stock and newer methods of mastering. The film has a wonderful layer of fine grain over the entire thing (the last of the movies to be shot with 35 mm film), and it is a huge upgrade over the Blu-ray. There’s some minor issues such as the bleak color grading, but those are more stylistic rather than technical issues. Paramount is knocking it out of the park with their re-doing of these films, and The Sum of All Fears is another worthy upgrade visually from it’s 1080p counterpart.
• Audio Commentary with director Phil Alden Robinson and Tom Clancy.
• The Making of The Sum of All Fears
• Creating Reality: The Visual Effects of The Sum of All Fears
• Theatrical Trailer
The Sum of All Fears is a silly spy film that actually works due to a mid film “twist” that propels the movie into it’s exciting third act. The inclusion of the ever popular Morgan Freeman is a boon to any film in that era, and it’s interesting to watch Ben Affleck when he was on the cusp of turning into a really good actor. As a Jack Ryan film, it falls a bit short, but as a fun popcorn movie it actually works rather well. The bump up in video quality is quite substantial (staggering in many scenes) due to how poor the Blu-ray was, and the extras and audio are direct ports from the Blu-ray itself. As such, it makes a very solid upgrade from the Blu-ray and a worthy addition to the complete box set. Recommended as a Fun Watch
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, James Cromwell
Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson
Written by: Paul Attanasio, David Pyne, Tom Clancy (Novel)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 HEVC
Audio: English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1, German, Spanish, French (Candadian), French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian DD 5.1, Polish DD 2.0
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish
Runtime: 124 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 21st, 2018
Recommendation: Fun Watch