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Customer Review

32 of 42 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The fears of all post-9/11 filmmakers., November 26, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sum of All Fears (Special Collector's Edition) (DVD)
Deeply compromised adaptation of the Tom Clancy potboiler. Director Phil Alden Robinson and his cadre of screenwriters tippy-toe around, about, but never directly on, the subject of mass murder by terrorists. The immediate point of comparison to 9/11 in this film would be the small nuclear bomb that presumably obliterates the city of Baltimore, MD. I say "presumably" because we're of course not permitted to see the results of the devastation: Robinson & Co., by the use of very heavy editing, attempt to spare us from associating their fictional event to the real event that occurred a year ago. (Well, some windows are blown out, and a small, rather pretty computer-animated mushroom cloud is perceived for a split-second, indicating the city may not be completely wiped-out, after all.) Indeed, by film's end, it's as if the blast never occurred: in the last scene, Ben Affleck and his pretty wife are having lunch in the park. The End. One wonders why the film studio simply didn't scrap this whole project and eat the loss, if they were so fearful of the movie's subject-matter. Why go to the trouble of making a movie about a catastrophic event if you're not even going to play that event for dramatic value? Of course, the supreme irony is that the fearful filmmakers, who shot this movie before 9/11, changed the Muslim villains of Clancy's story to a cabal of Neo-Nazis, in order to avoid accusations of insensitivity from the Arab-American community. (If what I've heard is true. I've never read the book, myself. If the book doesn't feature Arab terrorists, I stand humbly corrected.) I give *The Sum of All Fears* a 2nd star primarily for the excellent supporting actors (Morgan Freeman, a delightfully smooth Liev Schreiber, James Cromwell, Philip Baker Hall, et al.), and for the overall professionalism of the direction . . . by which I mean that even if the story is implausible, the action sequences are not. However, Ben Affleck, filling the shoes of Harrison Ford as CIA agent Jack Ryan, is a massive liability. Not only is he a skunk at a garden party, in terms of comparison with the rest of the cast, but he makes one appreciate just how good his predecessor in the role really was.
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