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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Sum of All Fears"


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Ben Affleck and Bridget Moynahan
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As Tom Clancy movies go, "The Sum of All Fears" seems to fit the bill. Starring a name-brand cast such as Morgan Freeman, Ben Affleck, James Cromwell and others, it's yet another war-thriller set in modern times, that strives to give a haunting and apparently realistic view of what might happen if a nuclear war broke out between the US and Russia.

"What?! The US and RUSSIA?", you ask? "Isn't that sort of old news now?" Well, yes. But, don't worry, there's a twist of modern-day reality here. What's more, it's entertaining.

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Ben Affleck and Morgan Freeman
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There are two aspects to this movie that intrigue me. The first is taking note on how times have changed in our culture: the original plot told a story on how Arabian terrorists find an old Israeli nuclear warhead from a fighter shot down in 1973, during one of the Israeli- Palestinians conflicts. The terrorist detonate it at the Super Bowl, causing an immediate escalation of nuclear retaliatory strikes with Russia, which was mistakenly thought to be responsible for the act. However,
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Morgan Freeman
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in consideration of not offending the majority of Arabs that are not terrorists, the villains had to be replaced by a group not represented by so many people. Neo-Nazis. That was easy; who are you going to offend? Sure, Arab terrorists would be more believable, but Neo-Nazis are less controversial. Unfortunately for the movie, this defused the impact of the villain. Sure, the conflict between the US and Russia was believable, but they weren't the villain - without a more plausible and threatening bad guy, too much steam was let out of the cooker.

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James Cromwell
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The second aspect of the movie that intrigues me is that they depicted a nuclear explosion going off without overly exploiting it as a major plot point. In an odd way, the movie is good, clean fun for the war-enthusiast in your household. It's intelligent for the "action film" genre; it doesn't have stupid dialog, gags or convenient escapes to help the plot move along. Even Jack Ryan, the major character in all Clancy novels, is portrayed coyly by Ben Affleck, and no one came out looking like the
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Ciaran Hinds and Alan Bates
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testosterone-filled hero. That said, it's not a serious examination of international politics, nuclear policy, or reflective of any governmental figure in office today. To that extent, the movie is charmingly dated - if it were 1985. I'm sure it would have rivaled "War Games" at the time..

In summary, the movie did a great job at completely distancing itself from reality, while still maintaining a balance of realism and entertainment at the same time.

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