Thursday, December 12, 2002

Sum Of All Fears (2002)

Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson (hey, I hadn't heard of him, either. He directed Field of Dreams, though)
Written By: Paul Attanasio adapted it from a Tom Clancy novel.
Starring: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, and a lot of vaguely familiar faces
Synopsis: A lot of important political people worry about bombs and assassinate people, sometimes simultaneously.

You have a pretty clear idea of what you're getting into when the DVD jacket proudly proclaims "Three and A Half Stars!" You couldn't find anyone to give you four stars? You have Morgan Freeman in a movie, and you can't find anyone to give you four stars? Usually, in this situation, the men in charge will find a quote from some no-name in a radio station in Alabama and throw that up there: "Visually Stunning!" "Huge Special Effects!" "Affleck Gives the Performance of His Career!" Now, there's a quote to make any viewer flinch.

Still, being from New England, I've got a soft spot for Affleck, who may have made some of the worst movie choices of all time, but nevertheless deserves more recognition than he gets for his acting chops. In Fears, he's in his element: a lot of stuff blows up around him, but he still manages to escape with great hair. The man's made a career out of roles like this (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor), and Fears is much of the same. He stars as Jack Ryan, a historian turned CIA-member, who gets his helicopter knocked out of the air by an exploding nuclear bomb three miles away, and you can tell it's serious because when he stumbles from the burning wreckage, his hair is now - ruffled.

How did the bomb get there? Well it all started with Russia. Or maybe Israel. And there's these rogue Americans, and a lot of guys with completely unidentifiable accents. The important part about the bomb is that it's not from Russia, it was just fired by a guy with a Russian accent. Unless this is a different bomb. There were a lot of nuclear bombs in this movie, and an awful lot of similar looking bad guys, and at the end, no one really seems to know where they are, which seems to be an awfully tricky loose end to leave hanging. It doesn't so much leave room for a sequel as it does leave you wondering "So, did the good guys win?"

I can't say for sure, but I was pleased to see Bridget Moynahan in the flick, a fine actress who I like for reasons other than just the fact that she's dating Tom Brady. She supplies the love interest for Affleck to not have chemistry with, while Freeman supplies a measure of credibility to a haphazard script by Paul Attanasio, who, as the writer of Sphere and the executive producer of House, M.D., ought to know better.

Still, what the heck. Four stars. Somebody's gotta do it.