(Credit: Gage Skidmore)

This forgotten Ben Affleck thriller climbs charts on Netflix

Ben Affleck is known for a lot of great cinematic endeavours in his career. Titles such as Good Will Hunting to some severe flops like Daredevil. While he has stayed in shape and played the role of a very aggressive and comically hoarse-voiced Batman in the titular films as well as Justice League, one of Affleck’s forgotten hits is now soaring charts on Netflix. 

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson, the 2002 flick Sum of All Fears is based on a screenplay co-written by Daniel Payne and Paul Attanasio, derived from the original source material which is Tom Clancy’s eponymous 1991 novel that is a part of his famous Jack Ryan franchise. Although the name of the protagonist played by Ben Affleck is Jack Ryan, the film has no ties with the recently popular 2018 series starring John Krasinski. 

The film revolves around the events that take place after the Russian president’s death, events that change the political landscape immensely. He is succeeded by an elusive and suspicious Alexander Nemerov, whom the American government is highly wary of.  

CIA Analyst Jack Ryan is appointed by director Bill Cabot to investigate the situation where they suspect certain rebellious Russian scientists to have developed dangerous nuclear weapons. A nuclear bomb is detonated in Maryland and the United States soon blames Russia, causing catastrophic conflicts to ensue. 

It is on Jack Ryan to find out the truth regarding stolen uranium, the hidden motives of the neo-fascist groups as well as quash the severe conspiracies to save the day! 

When it was released in 2002, the reception was lukewarm. The visual effects and cinematography garnered high praise while the narrative was accused of being too convoluted and confusing, lacking depth of understanding. Many felt that Affleck as Ryan was a poor casting choice as he lacked the inherent intimidating authority of the likes of Harrison Ford or Pierce Brosnan. Affleck was, at that time, trying to locate his position in the industry, caught between the dilemma of playing the leading man versus sticking to a more behind-the-scenes role as a screenwriter.

With a star-studded ensemble cast that delivered brilliant performances, Affleck starred as Jack Ryan while Morgan Freeman played the role of Director Cabot. Iconic actor James Cromwell played the role of the President of the United States while Ciaran Hinds was stellar as Nemerov. Despite his limited screen-time, Alan Bates as Richard Dressler left an everlasting impact in the film. 

Although it was a financial success and turned out to be a visual delight, the film was said to have been incoherent and disjointed as it tried to find a middle ground between being a scathing political thriller and a riveting espionage film like that of James Bond. One thing is for sure, those who had read the book were not very pleased with the film.  

Many argued that the film’s plot narrative was not enough to explore deep-rooted topics of corruption, fascism and terrorism while others accused it of being bias. Thus, the film has a very poor score on Rotten Tomatoes where viewers argue that the film has aged like a bad curry. 

However, recently, it has garnered a lot of attention on Netflix, clambering up to the sixth position on the Most Popular tab. Despite the harsh criticism it had received upon its release, the film’s visual effects and impressive and far-sighted approach as a thriller seem to have won over the viewers who have been watching the film quite frequently, catapulting it to the very top.  

Check out the trailer of the film before watching it on Netflix now: 

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