Nightmare Fuel: Though Clancy points out in his afterword that he specifically changed a lot of details on creating a nuclear bomb, he also points out that the information necessary to do so is public knowledge, and not terribly difficult to acquire.
Hilariousin Hindsight: Elliot calls Ryan “James Bond”, unable to adapt to the end of the Soviet Union, but the novel makes it clear that his skills are still necessary. More than twenty years later, Skyfall would run with the same themes.
Complete Monster: Neo-Nazi billionaire Richard Dressler wants to create a fascist superstate in Europe. His ruminations on history have led him to the conclusion that Adolf Hitler was a fool for trying to fight Russia and America—it's much better to have them fight and destroy each other. Dressler obtains a nuclear weapon and places it in a football stadium during the Super Bowl, killing countless innocent people. He blames the attack on Russia so the Americans will bring their military to bear and when Russia stands its ground, the two countries are ready to engage in all-out nuclear war on one another thanks to Dressler's framing and stroking of tensions.
Critical Research Failure: The missiles on the movie poster are surface-to-air missiles designed for shooting down airplanes; they are not nuclear ones.
Harsher in Hindsight:In the movie rogue elements of the russian military use a Novichock nerve agent on the chechen capital.At the time their existence was known to only a few experts and they had never been used in the real world.
Idiot Plot: Jack Ryan has finally gotten on the phone with one of the President's advisors, a man who hates him and dismissively refers to him as "Nemerov apologist" right off the bat. Instead of immediately telling him that he can prove the plutonium in the bomb was of American origin, instantly resolving the situation before things get any worse, he decides to argue with the guy about Nemarov's integrity until he hangs up.
Values Dissonance: Some Russian viewers are unhappy with the portrayal of the Chechnya problem in the film.