Films like 'The Sum of All Fears' often get an unfair press, reviewers moaning about poor characterization, over-emphasis on visuals, plot-holes and other such things, when all the time these movies - techno-thrillers, as they're often known - are just doing what they supposed to be doing: entertaining the audience on quite a basic, bubble-gum level. This latest cinematic re-working of a Tom Clancy novel - starring Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, and a whole host of other 'name' actors - succeeds admirably on that level. Although at times it's a little dumber than it needs to be (making Jack Ryan a lot younger than he is in the book is part of the problem), most of the time it has the right blend of wit, excitement, tension, and explosions to carry the audience through. Affleck is competent when he needs to be, and does a good job as Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin was better, though, in 'The Hunt for Red October'), but the real star of the show is Liev Schreibner (playing special ops agent John Clark) who in his limited screen time completely inhabits his role, and turns out a fantastic performance. Schreibner is one to watch. The other performances are all good, but the script isn't really asking a lot of top-class actors like Morgan Freeman or James Cromwell, and what they squeeze out is dependent on the scene they're in. But 'The Sum of All Fears' isn't about the actors - it's about the drama, the excitement, the thrills and spills. Even though the plot isn't all that complex, it seems like there is a lot happening, and as long as you don't think about it for too long, it holds itself together. 'The Sum of All Fears' doesn't match the sheer quality of 'The Hunt for Red October', and lacks the charisma of 'Clear and Present Danger', but it is nevertheless a pretty good adaptation of the lengthy (highly recommended) Tom Clancy novel. If you're looking for a bit of entertainment, give it a go. (Additionally, Tom Clancy's audio commentary with Phil Alden Robinson points out a lot of the factual inaccuracies and plot holes present in the movie, but it's worth listening to for amusement value alone - Clancy obviously doesn't like the liberties taken in adapting his novel, and Phil Alden Robinson spends a lot of being corrected and sounding apologetic.)
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