DirectorPhil Alden Robinson
Release Date(s)2002 (July 29, 2008)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: C+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: C
Now, here’s film I have mixed feelings about. I really liked the book, and when it was announced that Ben Affleck was taking over the role of Jack Ryan from Harrison Ford, I had high hopes for it. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been another film in the series since.
The Sum of All Fears was intended as a reboot of the Jack Ryan film franchise, with the character newly depicted as a fresh young and upcoming CIA analyst. As an advisor to the CIA Director (Morgan Freeman), he’s thrust into the middle of a terrorist plot to smuggle a nuclear weapon onto American soil and detonate it, in the hopes of sparking an all-out nuclear conflict between the U.S. and Russia. The film itself is actually quite good – certainly, it’s the most under-appreciated of the Ryan films. Although, I’m sure I’m not the only one in the audience felt a cold chill down my spine upon seeing... well, you can guess what I’m talking about. Given that this film was released so soon after 9/11, perhaps that more than anything is what killed the franchise.
I wish this film looked better on Blu-ray Disc, because it certainly should. Unfortunately, Paramount has simply recycled the previous HD-DVD transfer and they don’t appear to have optimized the compression for Blu-ray. You can tell this is what happened, because there’s a wash of noticeable compression artifacting visible throughout the entire film. It’s never distracting, fortunately, but if you look for it, it’s definitely there. Color and contrast, at least, are excellent, and there’s good fine detail visible. As with the other Tom Clancy Blu-rays, the Dolby TrueHD surround mix is terrific, with a big wide soundstage, smooth and natural surround play, and solid LFE.
The Sum of All Fears was previously released on HD-DVD with no extras, but the Blu-ray edition includes everything that was on the previous special edition DVD... which is actually the most extras on any Jack Ryan title. You get an audio commentary with director Phil Alden Robinson and D.P. John Lindley, as well as a second commentary with Robinson and author Tom Clancy himself. Two behind-the-scenes featurettes are available, The Making of The Sum of All Fears and Creating Reality: The Visual Effects of The Sum of All Fears, again in standard-definition. Also included here is the film’s theatrical trailer, presented in full HD.
As with Paramount’s other Jack Ryan titles on Blu-ray Disc, I wouldn’t pay the full retail price for The Sum of All Fears, but it’s still worth the upgrade if you liked the movie and you can find a good sale price. I just wish a little more effort had gone into re-compressing the video for Blu-ray.
- Bill Hunt