The Sum of All Fears

Year: 2002
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson
Written By: Daniel Pyne, Paul Attanasio (screenplay) Tom Clancy (novel)


I have never been a fan of the Jack Ryan movies, and I’ve never read any of Tom Clancy’s novels. I probably should though because they must be good. They sure won’t let the character die out of films as they’ve been trying to make him the American James bond for like thirty years including four different actors to play the part. This movie features the third Jack Ryan played by Ben Affleck who hadn’t yet seen his fall and rebirth in the industry back in 02. This movie made it into the collection much like Street Kings did, it reminded me of a TV show I loved. I am a huge 24 fan and this movie always reminded me of it.

It may have been a bit of a stretch to compare this movie to 24. While there are certain elements that do compare by and large it doesn’t. The Glossy haired Ben Affleck version of Jack Ryan is certainly no Jack Bauer, but nobody really measures up to Jack Bauer. He’s the greatest as far as I am concerned. It’s like the God of Action came down and had sex with a regular woman and made Jack Bauer, half God, half human, all action.  Ben Affleck isn’t an action guy at all in this movie. I never watch these Jack Ryan movies but I’ve been under the impression they were action films. I must have been wrong about this, Affleck’s Ryan just asked how to use a gun.

I thought Jack Ryan was an action hero but he turns out to be more of a political hero that gets lucky in moments of action. And here I was comparing him to Jack freakin Bauer, how embarrassing. It takes brains as well as brawn to fight the good fight and this Jack Ryan has the former if not the latter to go along with it.

Now I’m just confused, if this movie didn’t remind me of 24 then why do I own it? I think I saw this movie possibly 15 years and hundreds if not thousands of movies ago. Sometimes reaching them in the collection is like going on an adventure of rediscovery. I’m about halfway through the film now and haven’t yet discovered what it was that I had forgotten about it but it’s been an interesting if not slow film.

Ah there it is, what intrigued me most about this movie when I first saw it. Nazis turn out to be the bad guys and they pit Russia and the US against each other. A nuclear bomb going off in a Baltimore stadium so soon after the tragedy on 9/11 was a bold move. That must have been what reminded me of 24. Although the bomb would have never endangered so many innocent people on Jack Bauer’s watch.

It’s interesting in this movie how quickly the Cold War comes back to life. I have always found that conflict fascinating. One of my favorite movies is Dr. Strangelove and once upon a time when I was a student teacher I designed a whole lesson plan around the film. The Cold War was a conflict that never really got around to any action and so many on both sides were itching for that action. I think this movie shows an interesting scenario for how things would have unfolded under similar circumstances.

I think I have figured out why I added this movie to the collection. I think it was back when I was in college, studying history. Its portrayal of the Cold War roaring back to life was most likely what I liked about it. There, mystery solved and now I can sleep easier at night without a meaningless mystery needling the back of my mind.

This is a cool movie and it has only gotten more interesting as it has gone on. Despite Ben Affleck’s ridiculous hairdo he manages to hold up well in this excellent cast. James Cromwell is a great choice for President and Morgan Freeman has always made everything he was in just a little bit better. I like Liev Schreiber as the real spy. There is also a nice cast of background characters to support these bigger names.

So to sum up everything this movie was not at all what I thought it was but it’s been fun rediscovering what it was that I first found interesting about it. It’s vaguely like 24 if 24 was about the bureaucrats and not the action guys on the ground. I find it funny I that I was wrong about why I owned this movie but those are the little laughs I can only enjoy myself. If you come by this movie it’s worth your time. Not the best movie but interesting enough.

NEXT MOVIE: Super 8 (2011)

Apt Pupil

Year: 1998
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Written By: Stephen King


This movie is based on the novella by the same name written by Stephen King.  It’s part of a collection of four novellas in the book titled “Different Seasons.” The other novellas were “Shawshank Redemption,” “The Body” (made into the movie Stand By Me), and “The Breathing Method.” I have read them all and they are all good, but this one is far and away the best.  It’s an incredible story, such a fantastic idea, and this is what Stephen King does in his free time after finishing a bigger novel. I can’t remember specifically but in the afterword I think King says he wrote this story in merely a few weeks and it was maybe after “The Shining.” One of these stories at least was written after “The Shining”, which short of “The Breathing Method” were all made into very successful films.  “Apt Pupil” is an amazing story, its about madness, obsession, manipulation, and murder.  I love the story, and I have read it several times.

Since reading it the movie doesn’t quite pack the same punch, which is typically what happens but I still enjoy the movie.  I am a big fan of Bryan Singer, despite his post X2 career.  Ian Mckellan is perfect in this film, as would be expected.  Ian McKellan is one of those actors that makes any movie better, much like Michael Caine.  He has had a lot of success teaming with Singer as they also collaborated on the X-Men movies with Mckellan playing a great Magneto. I think the part of Todd Bowden could have been cast better, nobody specific comes to mind but I am not impressed by Brad Renfro’s performance.  A major difference in the book is that the story takes place over a period of several years so Todd is much younger in the beginning.  I tend to see Renfro as too old when I watch the movie now, and I don’t think he has the range to play such a complex character.

This movie is great but if you want more madness from this story then definitely get yourself a copy of “Different Seasons.” I actually have “Apt Pupil” on audio book and listen to it as I work sometimes, it’s recorded by Frank Mueller who does a great job voice acting. The book goes much deeper and it takes you much farther, but this is typical when movies are based off of books.  This movie is worth your time and you should check it out if you have a chance to see it.


I thoroughly enjoy this film. I am a sucker for Ian McKellan, excuse me…Sir Ian McKellan. This film is interesting and isn’t like other movies that tend to follow similar past stories. This is really original. I know that it is based on a Stephen King novel, but it is still such an original movie and book. The parts that the two guys play are so perfect and to the tee. You could totally believe that Ian McKellan is actually German.

If you can’t find anything else to watch this is worth it. You have to be interested in a movie like this, I don’t think that it is really meant for everyone.

NEXT MOVIE:  A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)