Wednesday Bad Movie

Number 13 of a series

This is the last of the Tom Clancy-Jack Ryan films. I have previous reviewed Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger. This is The Sum of all Fears, from 2002 and as of 1 July streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Details are from Wikipedia. Here is the principle cast:

In the front matter of the book, Clancy explains the origin of the title:

Why, you may take the most gallant sailor, the most intrepid airman or the most audacious soldier, put them at a table together—what do you get? The sum of their fears. —WINSTON CHURCHILL

Clancy, Tom. The Sum of All Fears (A Jack Ryan Novel Book 7) (p. xi). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The opening scene shows fighter/bombers of the Israeli Air Force being armed for an attack on Syrian forces in the Golan Heights. One is armed with a nuclear weapon. As the pilot approaches the target his Phantom is blown out of the sky by a surface to air missile. Here is the first instance of trouble with this picture. A plane hit by a SAM does not look like this. Please review some actual combat images.

The nuke plows, unexploded into the desert sand, to be recovered years later by some Syrians and sold to somebody who knows what it is.

Your next question is going to be why an Israeli fighter/bomber is carrying a nuke on such a mission. In the book Clancy explains it is a mistake, coming about due to inexperienced ground crew who do not recognize what it is and to an 18-year-old pilot who is in a hurry to get into his first combat and decides to take off with the extra load.

Meanwhile we see CIA operative Jack Ryan getting acquainted with a delightful young doctor, Cathy Mueller. Then the phone rings.

Don’t you just hate it when you are about to score, and your country calls for you to come in to an emergency Security Council meeting? Me neither. Jack sits behind his boss, Director William Cabot. One of their Russian assets, high in the hierarchy, has been unearth and murdered. What to do about it? Jack must go to Moscow with his boss.

Flying east over the Atlantic Jack phones his girlfriend with the sad news that their date is off. She wants to know what noise is she hears in the background. Cabot tell Jack to just tell her the truth. When he explains he is going to an emergency meeting in Moscow she hangs up. Cabot laughs. This is so funny.

Back in America Jack is given the opportunity to get back into Cathy’s good graces. He gets tickets to the annual press banquet. He and Cathy are having a smashing time when it all comes to a crashing end. Phones start ringing, and people start leaving. Jack’s phone rings.

Meanwhile we learn that a neo-Nazi, son of one of the executed WWII Nazis, has cooked up a scheme to get the United States and Russia into a war. He explains that Hitler was foolish to fight the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously. He is going to sit back and watch them destroy each other.

He has obtained the plutonium core of the bomb and has hired three disaffected Russian scientists to design and construct a bomb from the fissile material. The bomb will be exploded somewhere in the United States. The Americans will think it’s a Russian attack and retaliate. Nature will take its course.

Jack embarks on a fierce investigation, tracking the progress of the nuclear material. The final notice is that it has arrived by boat in the port of Baltimore. Baltimore is where Cathy works in a hospital.

There is a football game in Baltimore, and the president will be there. We see his limo speeding along the freeway to the game.

We next see the national anthem being sung at the game. See something wrong. By the lighting it is obvious this is a night scene. But the game is being played during the afternoon.

Somewhere in the stadium a cigarette machine holds the deadly cargo.

Jack frantically phones Cabot, who can barely hear over the noise of the game. When the two finally connect, Cabot looks around. All these people will soon be dead. These soon to be dead watch in disbelief as the Secret Service hustles the president out of the stadium. The presidents motorcade storms at high speed away.

Cathy is at the hospital. There is a blinding flash, and the glass windows dissolve into splinters, and the blast wave knocks her down. An addition point of order. The time between the flash and the blast wave is short, indicating less than a thousand feet separation. When I watched this I was sure that would be the last we would see of Cathy.

Jack’s helicopter is shattered by the blast and crashes. He is the sole survivor. This is the second time this has happened in his career. Jack’s background is that he was injured in a helicopter crash, and the series streaming on Amazon shows him to be the sole survivor of a helicopter taken down in Iraq. Lesson: do not ride in a helicopter with Jack Ryan.

He extricates himself from the wreckage to see the characteristic mushroom cloud rising over Baltimore.

The president’s motorcade is blown off the road, but he survives. Cabot does not. Jack has determined the plutonium originated at the Savannah River plant in the United States. This was not a Russian bomb.

Tensions escalate. The Russians, fearing a strike, hit at an American carrier in the Black sea. The American fleet strikes back at the base that launched the attack. Blood has now been spilled in what can become WWIII.

But Jack is (finally) successful in convincing all concerned this was an attack by a disaffected neo-Nazi. There is a general stand down and reconciliation. One by one the perpetrators are rooted out and dispatched. This one is dreamily listening to a recording of Nessan Dorma (Nobody Sleeps) from Turandot. Somebody comes up from behind and garrotes him. Another is chased down and shot in a snowy wooded area. A third dies when his car is bombed. Justice, at last.

There is a big ceremony at the White House, but Jack and Cathy do not attend. They are spending the time together on the lawn, when Jack’s contact from Moscow comes up to introduce himself.

The closest the movie comes to introducing the title is this screen shot from the frantic moments when Jack is working to convince the United States and Russia to stand down.


When the book came out it was the Soviet Union. And Denver was attacked, not Baltimore.


About John Blanton

I'm a retired engineer living in San Antonio, Texas. I have served in the Navy, raced motorcycles, taken scads of photos and am usually a nice guy. I have political and religious opinions, and these opinions tend to be driven by an excess of observed stupidity. Gross stupidity is the supposed target of many of my posts.
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1 Response to Wednesday Bad Movie

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