The Sum of All Fears (2002)

Film and Plot Synopsis

“The Sum of All Fears” is a gripping political thriller film released in 2002, directed by Phil Alden Robinson and based on the novel of the same name by Tom Clancy. Set against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the United States and Russia, the film follows CIA analyst Jack Ryan as he uncovers a complex conspiracy that threatens to plunge the world into nuclear war. With its intense action sequences, intricate plot twists, and powerful performances, “The Sum of All Fears” captivates audiences with its exploration of international espionage, political intrigue, and the devastating consequences of unchecked power.

‘The Sum of All Fears’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
The Sum of All Fears (2002)The story begins with a flashback to 1973 during the Yom Kippur War. An Israeli warplane carrying a nuclear bomb is shot down and lost. In 2002, a Syrian scarp collector uncovers a large, unexploded bomb buried in a field in the Golan Heights. The scrap dealer sells the bomb to a South African black-market arms dealer named Olson (Colm Feore) who recognizes the weapon for what it is. Olson then sells the weapon to a neo-Nazi group led by Austrian billionaire Richard Dressler (Alan Bates) who formulates a plan to use the weapon to instigate a war between the United States and Russia. If effective, Dressler’s plan would allow for a united fascist Europe to rule the world.

At the same time, United States and Russia’s relations are strained due to Russia’s war in Chechnya. CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck) accompanies CIA Director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) to Moscow for a meeting with new Russian President Nemerov (Ciarán Hinds). As part of the trip, Jack and Cabot are allowed to examine a Russian nuclear weapons facility in accordance with the terms of a previous entered treaty. Jack notices the absence of three scientists listed on the facility’s roster, potentially indicating that they are no longer working for the Soviets. Cabot uses back channels and learns from a confidential informant inside the Kremlin, codenamed “Spinnaker”, additional information. Cabot dispatches CIA covert operative John Clark (Liev Schreiber) to Russia to investigate the scientists’ disappearance. Clark tracks the missing scientists to a former Soviet military facility in Ukraine. Cabot suspects that the scientists are building a secret nuclear weapon that can’t be tracked back to Russia.

Jack is tasked with investigating the weapon and learns that a crate from the facility in Ukraine was flown to the Canary Islands and then loaded onto a ship bound for Baltimore. When Jack learns of the crates destination, he alerts Cabot who is attending a football game in Baltimore with President of the United States Fowler (James Cromwell). Jack and Cabot accurately conclude that the bomb is destined for the game. President Fowler is successfully evacuated from the game before the bomb is detonated. The stadium is destroyed, and the President’s motorcade is overturned by the concussion wave. President Fowler survives, but Cabot is mortally wounded.

Matters are made worse when a Russian Air Force general on Dressler’s payroll launches an attack on the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier. The combined actions lead the United States to believe that Russia is responsible for the bomb.

When I asked for your advice, I didn’t mean that you should actually speak. DCI William Cabot (Morgan Freeman)

Without supervision, Jack learns from the radiation assessment team assigned to the nuclear blast that the isotopic signature from the bombing indicates that the bomb was manufactured in the United States, which would exonerate Russia. At the same time, Clark locates one of the men who found in the bomb, Ghazi (Nabil Eloushabi), in Syria. Ghazi is dying from radiation exposure. Ghazi informs Clark that he sold the bomb to Olson, who lives in Damascus. Jack has his colleagues at the CIA in Langley hack Olson’s computer and download files that implicate Dressler as the person who bought the plutonium and sent the bomb.

Jack tries to relay the information up his own chain of command, but everyone in the United States is convinced of Russia’s guilt. Jack uses Cabot’s back-channel contact to communicate with President Nemerov in Russia. Jack explains to the Russian president that he knows that Russia is not responsible for the bombing and asks Nemerov to unilaterally stand down his forces as a show of good faith. Nemerov agrees, and the United States follows suit after President Fowler sees that another attack is not imminent. The two countries reopen communications, and Jack and Clark’s information is shared with all sides.

In the aftermath, Olson and Dressler are assassinated. Fowler and Nemerov announce new measures to counter nuclear proliferation in a joint speech. Jack and his fiancée, Dr. Catherine Muller (Bridget Moynahan), enjoy some quiet time together on the Mall in Washington D.C. They are approached by Nemerov’s Senior Advisor Anatoli Grushkov (Michael Byrne), an elderly Russian who is a product of the cold war. Grushkov reveals that he is Spinnaker and suggests that he and Jack keep lines of communication open through back channels in the future. Grushkov also provides Cathy with an engagement gift and gives the couple a sly smile when they inquire as to how he knew they were engaged since they had not told anyone yet.

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Our Rating

Paramount Pictures released The Sum of All Fears on May 31, 2002. Phil Alden Robinson directed the film starring Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, and Ian Mongrain.

User Rating: 3.85 ( 3 votes)
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