Film: The Sum of All Fears
The Sum of All Fears
is a 2002 movie adaptation of the novel of the same name
The basic plot centers around a rogue nuclear bomb being developed by a terrorist organization and detonated in an American city to incite mistrust between the United States and Russia to the point of open war. CIA analyst Jack Ryan and his network of friends on both sides rush to track down the actual group responsible before the nuclear option becomes real.
The movie stars Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman, and is notable for changing the villains from Arab terrorists to Neo-Nazis while forwarding the timeline to 2003. It re-envisioned Jack Ryan as a young analyst in a form of Continuity Reboot
from the previous movies, and has him dealing with his first foray into the real inner workings of the CIA.
The movie contains the following tropes:
- Artistic License – Military: A sneak attack against an American carrier in the North Atlantic is not an easy feat. In a real life scenario the bombers would be detected from a great distance by early warning systems and there would be patrol craft on station to intercept. The mandatory and numerous carrier escorts would provide a SAM screen and a Macross Missile Massacre much more intense than the one shown in the movie would be needed to penetrate it. Tom Clancy calls the director out on stuff like this in the audio commentary. Strong, but not mean. The following is paraphrased:
Guy in Movie: Their stealth bombers are somewhere over Turkey, dropping in and out of radar contact.
Tom Clancy: That's bull***!
Tom Clancy: Yeah, it's totally invisible to radar. The only way you can spot a stealth bomber is to physically see it, and you can really only do that when it's taking off or landing.
Director: I thought there was some way to...
Tom Clancy: No. That's what makes it such a sinister weapon.
- Award Bait Song: If We Could Remember by Yolanda Adams.
- Big Bad: Dressler.
- Danger Room Cold Open: The DEFCON 1 situation at the beginning is a drill.
- Dolled-Up Installment: The game adaptation is really just Ghost Recon with new levels, characters, story, etc. Doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad game, though.
- Expy: CIA director William Cabot is a similar substitute for Admiral Greer from The Hunt for Red October; both are African-American Reasonable Authority Figures with high clearance who introduce Ryan into decision-making circles. Cabot is more cynical.
- External Combustion: Subverted. Dressler is Genre Savvy enough to have his bodyguard start the car first, and the poor guy obviously knows why. This is why the assassin wires the bomb into the cigarette lighter in the back seat, since Dressler is a chain smoker.
- Fatal Family Photo: The fighter pilot in the opening sequence has a photo wedged in the instrument panel of his cockpit. It comes loose and falls the the floor, and the pilot is reaching for it when the SAM missile blows him out of the sky.
- Great Offscreen War: The conflict in Chechnya is often referred to, but never shown on-screen.
- Grey and Black Morality: While the Neonazi terrorists are very undeniably the bad guys in their attempts to nuke a city to spark a full-scale nuclear war, the US and Russian governments are shown to act very morally ambiguous themselves. Case in point: As the deception gets cleared up and a demilitarisation treaty is signed at the end of the film, we are treated to a montage of the perpetrators getting hunted down and mercilessly killed by the two countries' secret services.
- Make the Bear Angry Again: Part of the planning of the antagonists is to get the US and Russia into a shooting war.
- Mythology Gag/Continuity Cameo: The absent in the novel Tupoloev Backfire attack on the U.S. carrier is transplanted from Clancy's Red Storm Rising, which technically is not part of the Ryanverse.
- Not So Different: In a post-9/11 film, it's very hypocritical for a US President to criticize the Russian President for taking military action abroad against terrorists that target a person's homeland. The point of the film is to demonstrate how, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, terrible things start to seem reasonable.
President Nemerov: You dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. You dropped the bomb on Nagasaki. Do not lecture me on Chechnya!
- Ominous Latin Chanting: The Mission, though it sounds more of a One-Woman Wail it has Latin lyrics.
- One-Woman Wail: The Mission.
- Precision F-Strike: Given the movie's rating, the one use of the F-Bomb is given to the President, in the aftermath of the attack on Baltimore. Discussed in the DVD commentary, where the original cut had two, and given that they could only keep one in a PG-13 movie, they decided to let the President use it.
- Pretext for War: The villains plan revolves around making a nuke that looks Russian, and then detonating it on American soil, thus getting the two superpowers to launch attacks against one another.
- Prevent The War: The villains are attempting to provoke a war between the USA and the Russians by detonating a nuclear bomb at the Super Bowl, and by instigating another attack; in the book, East Germans disguised as Russian commanders get the Russian tanks to fire at the American tanks near Berlin, in the movie, a well-bribed Russian air force general instructs his air wing to attack a US aircraft carrier. Jack Ryan and John Clark have to find out what really happened before one side starts nuking the other.
- Resignations Not Accepted: One of the conspirators disagrees with the neo-Nazi murderous plan and attempts a gentleman's exit. He soon learns it is not an option.
- Right Wing Militia Fanatic: The antagonists. Notable in that we see more of the upper-crust expensive-suit-wearing leadership sipping fine wine in a tastefully-decorated European townhouse than their head-shaved, Swastika-tattooed wife-beater-clad underlings scurrying around in a backwoods paramilitary camp.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In the film's finale, all of the major conspirators are discreetly hunted down and assassinated by Russian and American agents.
- Scenery Gorn: Only lightly played - after Baltimore is nuked, the only long shot we see is of a mushroom cloud rising through the dusty fog kicked up by the shockwave. The explosion itself is mostly seen from the ground or helicopter level. But there are a number of scenes in the outskirts where generic streets are on fire, emergency vehicles are flying around, and chaos generally reigns.
- Shout-Out: Russian President Nemirov's speech, at the end, is taken from one JFK speech. The one heard at the beginning of JFK and at the end of Thirteen Days.
- Take a Third Option: The Secretary of Defense wants to Nuke 'em, the Secretary of State says it's "not reasonable!". A few minutes later, they agree to a conventional attack on the airbase that launched the attack on the carrier.
- Talking through Technique: When satellite photographs show Russian tanks still parked at their bases and not mobilized, Jack theorises that this inaction is a message from the Russian President, firstly affirming that he does not have warlike intentions, and secondly quietly stating that he did not order the recent attacks.
- Those Wacky Nazis: The villains. Here, they are noticeably all successful businessmen and politicians.
- World War III: What the villains are trying to instigate, and the protagonist is trying to prevent.