The Sum Of All Fears

The Sum Of All Fears (2002)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell
Extras: Commentary Tracks, Featurette, Trailer

Harrison Ford has become the silver screen incarnation of Tom Clancy’s CIA agent Jack Ryan over the years, appearing in film adaptations of ’Patriot Games’ and ’Clear And Present Danger.’ When news broke that Ben Affleck would play Jack Ryan in the latest Clancy adaptation, many frowned as it certainly is hard to see him in the role that Harrison Ford made so very much his won.

’The Sum Of All Fears’ solves part of the problem by going back in time, presenting us with a younger Jack Ryan at the beginning of his career. Affleck himself does the rest. He delivers a solid performance that has a bit more hot-shot hardhead attitude than Ford’s character but is still credible and likable.

Paramount Home Entertainment’s DVD sports an anamorphic widescreen presentation of the movie that is clean and clear. No defects or blemishes are evident and the transfer reveals a very good level of detail throughout. Colors are well reproduced creating a natural-looking image with saturated colors and hues. Blacks are strong and create deep shadow but never lose definition. No notable signs of edge-enhancement are evident and compression artifacts are non-existent.

The movie features a very aggressive 5.1 channel Dolby Digital audio track that makes very good use of the surround channels. Very dynamic and with a wide sound stage the mix is very modern and constantly bombards the viewer from all directions. Dialogues are firmly rooted in the front and are well integrated, always understandable and never drowned out. The music is rich and the track finely reproduced the variety of orchestral timbres without problems.

’The Sum Of All Fears’ contains two commentary tracks. The first one features director Phil Alden Robinson and cinematographer John Lindley. It is an informative track that is comparably technical and detailed in its elaboration of the production. The second track features the director once again, this time with writer Tom Clancy. This track is truly an interesting recording, the has some interesting tidbits. Especially Clancy’s take on the adaptation of his film to the screen is surprisingly candid and at times he goes out criticizing the film for its inaccuracies while the director tries to constantly seek Clancy’s approval.

A featurette on the Special Effects in the film and the movie’s theatrical trailer round out this release.

’The Sum Of All Fears’ is an entertaining film with a good dark spy feel. The story is a bit retro and contains too much Cold War sentiment for my taste but then again, how would I know how the political situation between the US and Russia is really handled behind the scenes?