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DVD Review: The Sum of All Fears
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SOAFThe Sum of All Fears
Blu-Ray
Directed by Phil Alden
Starring Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell
Paramount Home Entertainment
Release Date: July 29, 2008

Perhaps the most telling line in The Sum of All Fears is spoken by Morgan Freeman as CIA Director Bill Cabot. The POTUS says they run nuclear fire drills against the Russians because who else has over 2,000 to worry about, to which Cabot says, “It’s the guy with one I’m worried about.”

It’s been years since I originally saw this film, and I have to say it was not as bad as I remember it being the first time.

The series took a bizarre turn on this one. Bonus feature commentary revealed that Harrison Ford was originally supposed to reprise the role of Jack Ryan for the third time, but ultimately decided against it before filming began. The role was recast with Ben Affleck, 30 years Ford’s junior, and the script was rewritten to have Ryan as a new recruit to the CIA instead holding a high office like in the novel. The story was altered significantly from the novel, effectively rebooting a series that did not need rebooting. However, it all went down with the approval of author Tom Clancy, who served as the film’s executive producer.

This time around, Ryan finds himself with a unique bit of knowledge that forces him into the middle of an international crisis as an aryan conspiracy attempts to trick the U.S. and Russia into a nuclear war with each other. Thermo-nuclear war nearly started on false pretenses… sounds a bit like Hunt for Red October, right? Well, Clancy can be forgiven for being a bit formulaic at times for providing detailed and exciting insight to the world of intelligence and international conflict.

Though Affleck is hardly impressive as Ryan, the rest of the film is filled with talent. The story throughout it intriguing and ultimately very satisfying. But is worth going hi-def?

Well, the picture quality for the main feature is great. Most of the action is political in nature, but there are some scenes of pure action that look great. The sound quality is crisp and clear. The 5.1 surround sound setup sounds great even on a a standard stereo setup.

The disc has more bonus features than any other in the series by far, but they are of the same standard of quality. Besides two possible commentary tracks (both of which feature director Alden Robinson, one with cinematographer John Lindley, the other with Tom Clancy), the film includes short documentary-type features on the making of the film and interviews with cast and crew members. From an editor’s perspective I found it fun to see the special effects guys getting excited to have someone interviewing them about their work. But really, how many times are you going to watch these types of features? The only aspect of the disc that goes next-gen in it’s interactivity is the pop-up menus that allow you to adjust captions, language, etc. without stopping the movie. (Note: this is not the case during the bonus feature segments) Also, like all previous editions, the special features are identical to the ones found on the special edition DVD.

Final Score:
Movie: B
Picture Quality: A
Sound Quality: A
Bonus Features: B
Blu-Ray vs. DVD Benefits: Picture quality only

Overall, an okay movie, nicely presented, but not worth upgrading if you already have on DVD. Definitely the weakest in the series.

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