Jack Ryan 5- Film Collection: The Sum of All Fears - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Jack Ryan 5- Film Collection: The Sum of All Fears


Movie: :3.5stars:
4K Video: :4.5stars:
Video: :3.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :3stars:
Final Score: :4stars:


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).
The film’s first act is a bit punishing, but it slowly picks up, and by the third act the movie has gotten to be a lot of fun. Ben Affleck still hadn’t grasped how to be a GOOD actor yet (something he wouldn’t really master till he got behind the cameras as a director a bit later in his career), but the film is saved due to Morgan Freeman acting as Jack Ryan’s mentor, Bill Cabot. He’s absolutely fantastic, and flying at the peak of his acting career (BEFORE Freeman began taking on bit roles that didn’t showcase his skills nearly as much). James Cromwell comes in as the Russian President, and although he is a fantastic actor, feels out of place as a Russian.

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: :4.5stars: Video: :3.5stars:
Now for what you’re all here for. The change from 1080p to 2160p. Well, rest assured that the leap in video quality is QUITE substantial. All of the original 4 Jack Ryan films (Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit being the odd man out considering it was only made 4 years ago) were treated pretty badly on Blu-ray, with copious amounts of edge enhancement and over use of Digital Noise Reduction (DNR), turning the presentation into a mediocre waxy mess. I can’t tell if a new master has been struck for the release, or what the resolution is, but needless to say, this 4K UHD disc is well worth checking out. The film has a rather bleak look to it (not nearly as bleak as the first 3), but it is rather colorful at times, with strong splashes of blue and red and orange to contrast the “Soviet Gray” of the film’s over arching color spectrum. Textural details stand out enormously, as the film is finely detailed without the layer of digital artifacting and DNR to take away said details. The HDR comes into play with fireworks, bombs going off, and even the general black levels, as they maintain a strong sense of depth and darkness without succumbing to crush.

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: :4stars:
As with all the films in this box set,
The Sum of All Fears ports over the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track from the Blu-ray, which is a mixture of good and bad. The good is, the film’s audio mix was a solid one for the day, and still IS a solid mix. The bad is, that it’s the same old track and wasn’t reference quality even back then. The overall mix is a bit soft and doesn’t have the dynamic range that some of the other films have. There’s still some bombastic action going on in the second half, but the first half is decidedly front heavy and a bit squashed. The surrounds get some very nice activity when things kick off, and even small ambient background noises come through just fine. In all reality, the track is very serviceable and still quite enjoyable. It just never was wildly dimensional and was a bit constrained on the low end at times.

Extras: :3stars:
• Audio Commentary with director Phil Alden Robinson and Cinematographer John Lindley.
• 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

Final Score: :4stars:

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

Technical Specifications:

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
Studio: Paramount
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 124 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: August 21st, 2018

Recommendation: Fun Watch

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