Critic Reviews



Based on 35 critic reviews provided by
Chicago Sun-Times
Director Phil Alden Robinson and his writers, Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne, do a spellbinding job of cranking up the tension, they create a portrait of convincing realism, and then they add the other stuff because, well, if anybody ever makes a movie like this without the obligatory Hollywood softeners, audiences might flee the theater in despair.
All told, it's a reasonably effective movie, but it might have been a lot more effective had it the guts to portray a Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden-like character as its villain instead of this rather unbelievable, but more politically correct, gaggle of cardboard neo-Nazis.
Charlotte Observer
A middlebrow hybrid that should satisfy most fans of spy movies without blowing them away.
Chicago Reader
Screenwriters Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne stick to Clancy's sure-fire formula -- building tension from the political infighting behind a worsening crisis.
Portland Oregonian
The tension is so plausibly high that you're eager to see how it winds up. Eager enough, in fact, to forgive Jack Ryan for reversing the aging process and winding up as Ben Affleck.
Chicago Tribune
The sum of all snores until the moviemakers start blowing up Baltimore halfway through. Then the special-effects people take over for about 20 breathless minutes.
The A.V. Club
At once too real for escapism and too ridiculous for a credible espionage thriller, The Sum Of All Fears unfolds like a cruel joke and treats imagined human tragedy as the punchline.
Washington Post
Surprisingly uninvolving, the least effective of Neufeld's Clancy-based movies. Surely he was not looking for this kind of film: one that bombs literally and figuratively.
New York Magazine (Vulture)
Movie has been upstaged by the sum of our fears. The staunch heroics, frantic presidential huddles, and hairbreadth rescues all seem tinny and escapist, too Cold Warrior–ish, for what's really going on now.
How the hell did Ben Affleck, 29, wind up replacing Harrison Ford, 59, as our hero? Who's next as Ryan -- Ozzy Osbourne's guppy son, Jack? Chronology hasn't been this royally fucked with since Memento.

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