In 1991, an experienced and professional CIA analyst named Jack Ryan brought bad guys to justice after the detonation of a nuclear device on American soil. That is how the story goes in Tom Clancy's bestselling novel The Sum of All Fears. In 2002, as director Phil Alden Robinson brings an adaptation of the military thriller to the big screen, it's a much different story. It also has a different audience, with different concerns and fears.
Jack Ryan has tracked down terrorists and tried to prevent nuclear disaster several times before. You've probably seen previous adaptations: The Hunt for Red October (starring Alec Baldwin), Patriot Games (Harrison Ford), and Clear and Present Danger (Ford again). While Fears is a later chapter as the books go, on the big screen it has been altered to become a story of young Jack Ryan, played by Ben Affleck, whose furrowed brow gives away his adoration for Ford. Why was the story altered? The franchise wanted a new star that might stick around; Ford was not interested in the project.
But so much has changed in the world's political climate since 1991 that the story has changed in other ways as well. The villains of the novel were three terrorists: a German leftist, an anti-Zionist Arab, and a Native American political activist. Today, it would be politically incorrect to even suggest that such characters would carry out such atrocities. And America is trying to balance anti-extremist action in the Middle East with careful reaffirmation of respect and support for Arabs in America. Thus, the villains of this movie are—you guessed it—Neo-Nazis. Too bad Harrison Ford didn't sign on; we would have had ourselves an Indiana Jones movie in disguise.
As the story goes, these Neo-Nazis want to bait ...1
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