Title: The Sum of All Fears
Release Date: 2002
Nationality and Language:
Running time: 120 minutes
Distributor and Production Company:
Director; Writer: Phil Alden Robinson, wr: Paul Attansio, Daniel Pyne; music, Jerry Goldsmith
Producer: Mace Nuefeld. Ex Prod. Tom Clancy, based on novel by Tom Clancy
Cast: Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman, James Cromwell, Live Schreiber, Alan Bates, Philip Barker Hall, Colm Feore, Ron Rikfin, Bruce McGill
Technical: Panavision 2.3 to 1, full DTS
Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site: terrorism
No more. Part of
nuke serves an early 90s novel by Tom Clancy, when the
perspective on the threats was different and now seems off-center. Neo-Nazi
terrorists steal a missing nuke from the remnants of 1973 Arab-Israel war
(remember the oil embargo and gas lines!!) and use a nuclear explosion to try
to force an escalation and all out nuke war between the
Of course, the 21st Century threat now seems to
be that militant or radical Islamic terrorists would use suitcase nukes or
dirty bombs to quickly destroy American society or perhaps to blackmail
American foreign policy. Now the ads for the movie claim that 1 out of 27000
nukes is missing. Really, it’s about 80 suitcase
nukes that are missing, although the tritium core triggers have probably aged
to the point that they could not be detonated. The Bush administration was very nervous
about the release of this movie on
The other key concept in the screenplay was
“information.” At the film’s climax,
Dr. Ryan breaks through Pentagon security because, “You are about to base
your decision on some really bad information.” He pontificates for a moment
about family values but then convinces the panicking president and military
brass that the nuke really did come from neo-Nazi terrorists and that
There was a scene involving cryptography, where emails are displayed along with the encrypted translations, which looked like strings of special Greek or Cyrillic characters, sometimes browsed by Internet Explorer with a crossed-out effect. I wonder if this is how it really happens.
Oh well, this is only a movie. Or is it? The title of the movie seems to need the Greek letter Sigma (or maybe a calculus integral symbol) as part of its logo. In the non-Euclidean world, sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
A twin movie for this, released
by Touchstone and produced Jerry Bruckheimer films, is Bad Company. And this is a “lesser film”
for Bruckheimer (director, Joel Schulmacher).
Anthony Hopkins is codgerly and crusty enough as
The other companion to “Sum” is Universal’s The Bourne Identity,
directed by Doug Liman (118 minutes), based on Robert Ludlam’s
bestseller. This is more like a Breshnev-era flick.
Okay, Matt Damon plays Jason Bourne, the disconnected assassin sent illegally
to a rogue state by
Anyway, it turns into a road movie, with German actress Franka Potente (“Run Lola Run”). Damon plays superman, all right, with spider-man escapes and then some martial arts. In most of his roles, Damon comes across as the heterosexual equivalent to QAF’s Justin Taylor, with this boundless energy to master everything. There is this story that the director pulled up Damon’s t-shirt an peeked at his always hairless chest and said, “you are going to the gym.” Not sure I believe that he needed to.
Damon was on “Good Morning America” the week of his premiere, and when asked to identity his favorite book, he just answered, “the plays of William Shakespeare,” because Shakespeare could gab so much. Oh well, I used the honor speech from Hamlet as my epigraph in “Do Ask Do Tell.”
The location photography, especially the grays and blues
The screenwriting was especially tight, with a provocation in every scene to keep the audience glued. At one scene where the tag team arrives at a French farm house, a little girl says, “I have to go pee,” just to keep the script moving.
The sequel is The Bourne Supremacy (2004, dir. Paul
Greengrass, novel by Ludlum) has Bourne (again,
Matt Damon) living under a pseudonym in a kind of witness protection, but he
has to come out of his shell and become an assassin to survive after a
Ultimatum (2007, dir. Paul Greengrass, novel by
Ludlum) continues the saga, with a new black ops operation determined to
eliminate Bourne before he finally figures out how he was recruited and his
old identity erased. The movie chases through
Minority Report (2002, 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks, 145 min, R) , Steven Spielberg’s film noir/science fiction epic based on a 1954 short story by Philip K. Dyck (Blade Runner), starring Tom Cruise, Max Von Sydow, Samanta Morgan, and Mark Dickman, again brings up the question of how far we will go in squashing civil liberties for security. Here, it is 2054, and a few years earlier new biotechnology allowed the police to set up a “pre-crime” unit to apprehend people planning crimes for their thoughts. (Maybe sounds like Gizmo, or holding American citizens indefinitely as unlawful comnatants? Or even the “civil” commitment of sex offenders and pedophiles, after they serve their statutory prison sentences, to mental hospitals effectively for life in some states, for crimes that they may commit.) “Thoughtcrimes” was the name of a chapter in Randy Shilts’s Conduct Unbecoming. Legally, the idea that one can demonstrate a “propensity” to commit a future act come up in connection with gays in the military and the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, and it could come up in other areas, like with teachers working with minors. Here, the technology consists of using precogs (“precrimes”), autistic people kept in “altered states”—bathed in nutrients, to supply the intelligence. Once somebody is apprehended he gets warehoused in a prison structure that looks like a colony of honey cask ants. Spielberg said in an interview that he did not want to make a movie directly about 9-11, but this film certainly brings all the issues. There is no right to privacy in a world where mechanical spiders invade apartments to scan retinas.
Déjà vu (2006, Touchstone/Jerry Brucheimer,/ScottFree dir. Tony
Scott, 128 min, PG-13) “Already Seen” as translated literally. Ever had a
since you’ve been in a situation before? The movie made me feel that. Denzel
Washington (who else?) plays ATF agent Doug Carlin, assigned to investigate
the terrorist bombing of a ship (USS Nimitz) in the Mississippi River through
post-Katrina New Orleans, quickly finds that French Quarter local woman
(Donna Patton) was murdered two hours ahead and burned to appear to be a
victim from the ship. A right-wing Timothy McVeigh type Carroll Oerstadt (Jim Caviezel), had
tried to buy a SUV and Carlin tracks him down, with the help of government
satellite-Google Earth technology that records everything anyone does, even
in their home, and makes it available a few days later as a kind of video
game with spacefolding, Mobius
strip technology. (The
Now all of these forwards and backups on “reality” (like
movie shoots) are annoying, and the concept of a story like this could be
more effective if just treated dramatically. The movie has been criticized as
humdrum, although the issues it raises are important. The morning of 9-11,
around or so, I had a dream of
a nuclear attack in
Why was this film, from Revolution Studios, distributed by Paramount instead of Columbia (Sony)?
Cris, at one point, says that the future is changes once someone looks at it. That’s just part of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity.
I think “Next” was to be an Apple computer, too, and Nextel is a major cell phone company.
K19: The WidowMaker was a Soviet sub in 1961 that parked itself within hailing distance of U.S. East Coast cities, some time before the Cuban Crisis, and it did make widows. When the nuclear reactor goes out of control, men repeatedly sacrifice themselves to radiation sickness desperately trying to prevent a meltdown and an explosion near a NATO base, maybe starting WWIII. The movie plays on the idea that military men are indeed called upon to make horrible sacrifices, while the skipper, played by “all American” Harrison Ford, refuses to accept moral dilemmas. Director Kathryn Bigelow (Strange Days, 1995) manages to weave in some political history leading to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Strange Days was quite captivating when I saw it, a few years before Y2K. The film broke 20 minutes before the end, leaving me expecting a big payoff at the Y2K moment in downtown LA (not the right time for the Big Ben Clock). (I saw it a couple days later). Here ex-copy Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) thinks he has uncovered a police conspiracy from “virtual reality” discs that you play like Walkmen. The movie title has a double in NBC “Discovery for Kids,” “Strange Days at Blake Holsey High”.
This is a good place to mention the 1982 television
two-part miniseries The Day After, where the United
States retaliates for a Soviet strike from a hidden missile silo in Lawrence,
Ks, and Kansas City is destroyed (and people become translucent when hit by
the blast). Jason Robards is one of the survivors
in the worthless world that follows. Also, in 1983 there was a strong
independent film, Testament (Paramount,
American Playhouse), directed by Lynne Littman, which traces a
suburban northern California family after San Francisco is destroyed by a
surprised nuclear attack. The kids learn about the attack when a cartoon
program is interrupted with a report of the attack on
Boot (“The Boat”, 1982,
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