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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

A Cautionary Tale

The Sum of All Fears on IMDb

Plot Overview

getting readyJack Ryan (Ben Affleck) was a marine until his back injury, then he got a Ph.D. under the GI Bill and has been working fourteen months now as a faceless analyst for the CIA, writing reports that nobody reads or cares about. His girl­friend Dr. Cathy Muller (Bridget Moynihan) of three whole dates is a second year surgical resident at Baltimore Memorial Hospital. Evidently they like each other as can be determined by their four white feet sticking out together from under the sheets as Cathy debates whether to answer her annoying pager. Oh, it's not the hospital. It's not even for her. It's Jack's (“Mine's just for show”) pager and he is being called in on an emergency (“What kind of emergency does a historian have?”) Cathy's girl­friend Rita in fact is unimpressed by his line of work (“Yawn”) or by his supposed think tank (“Double yawn”) where he plies his trade. Jack stumbles out the door in the fog of love. Okay.

discipleshipSeems that Dr. Ryan's paper on an obscure Russian Alexander Nemerov (Ciaran Hinds) being a likely candidate for her next president has hit the jackpot and nobody else saw it coming. Jack is taken under the wing of DCI William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) to the rarified air of an intelligence committee meeting. From there he's whisked away on an inspection tour of Russian nuclear sites. There Jack notices three nuclear scientists are missing, who together are capable of building their own nuke, so he is further sent to accompany agent John Clark (Liev Schreiber) to track them down. He becomes operational in the field. Yikes!

Meanwhile, Neo-Nazis led by Richard Dressler (Alan Bates) have acquired a tactical nuclear bomb on the black market. They intend to use it to spark a war between the super­powers. Then they'll be free to dominate what's left of the world. Jack is onto them but his line of communication back home is faulty and when he does reach some­one in authority, he lacks credibility and besides, they are too busy launching WW III to bother with what he has to tell them. Bummer.


plowingFor those not settled in the sands of time, I offer this remedial history lesson, with apologies to those who don't need it. The biblical story is widely known of Adam & Eve's temptation and fall in the Garden of Eden, how the woman ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to her husband to eat (Gen. 3:6), God responding by increasing the severity of the woman's child­birth pains (Gen. 3:16) and making man's toil onerous (Gen. 3:17-19.) What is less well known—except in places like the Bible Belt—is a redo of sorts to ameliorate man's difficult labor. Noah's father Lamech had (Gen. 5:29) “called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” They had to follow the earlier template to get a reprieve. Instead of the forbidden tree to be respected by the first couple, there was old man Noah whose work break was to be respected by his three sons (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” They formed them­selves into two pairs: the eldest Shem & Japheth, and the youngest Ham paired with his own son Canaan to make the numbers even. Instead of the wily serpent we had Noah's wife who since she isn't mentioned, did well and incurred no rebuke. She would have made her­self scarce and given Noah some space when he let his hair down. She evidently went to visit Ham as he showed up on the scene, after his mom told him not to be bothering Noah. Ham fell to temptation to mock his dad and tried to get his two brothers to join him, but they wouldn't go along with it. This is parallel to Eve failing first then offering the fruit to Adam who accepted it, but here the oldest brothers did not go along with Ham, so we'd expect them to receive a blessing rather than a curse. Depicted below is that scene rendered in a Civil War vintage wood­cut, made after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carols­feld (German painter, 1794–1872) from his archive, published in 1877.

drunken Noah and his three sons

The alternate image text by licensor iStock.com/Getty Images explains what happened here to Noah after fermenting some grapes: “When he drank some of the wine, he got drunk and uncovered him­self inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers who were outside. Shem and Japheth took a garment and placed it on their shoulders. Then they walked in back­wards and covered up their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so they did not see their father's nakedness (Genesis 9:21-23).”

Ham had put himself in jeopardy according to, (Prov. 30:17) “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Especially pertinent in this case is Noah's control over the animals including the raven (Gen. 8:7) although Proverbs often gives general principles rather than specific results. Never­the­less, there is precedent when some kids mocked a man of God for not having a covering of hair and they got mauled by beasts, (2Kings 2:23-24) “And … as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.”

There's a parity of eye loss and servitude given in (Exodus 21:26) “And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; he shall let him go free for his eye's sake.” Ham and his line—represented by Canaan in Ham's line receiving the same curse which need not be mentioned twice—could be given servitude rather than mutilation. This would be in keeping with the sentiment of Job in, (Job 31:7-8) “If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands; Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.” In that woodcut-derived picture above we see Ham after turning aside from his mom's caution visiting his dad, getting carried away by an eyeful of the dishabille inebriate, and gesturing with his hands about it at the scene. If he were to “sow, and another eat” and his “off­spring be rooted out,” that would mean him becoming a slave and his offspring being carried away in slavery. Okay.

The Bible's account leans towards the latter. (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” When Noah woke up, he blessed as a pair the lines of his two respectful sons and cursed Ham's line­—Ham paired with his youngest son Canaan—with servitude to his other two sons'. (Jasher 73:35) “For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever.”

More germane to modern times is perhaps the lineage of Cush, Ham's oldest son (Gen. 10:6,) Cush meaning black in Hebrew, having settled in Africa, some to become in later years African-American slaves. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that, “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62).

Martin Luther King Jr.The blacks not liking their status in the land of the free, speechified. Negro leader Booker T. Washington in an 1895 speech—as printed by T. Harry Williams et al—said, “in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may over­look the fact that the masses of us are to live by the production of our hands, … that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labor” (79). Later MLK in his “I have a dream” speech said that the Negro would not be content until the Whites shared with him the paradise they live in. The latter was received with much contention, as we can speculate Ruth in the Bible would have similarly wanted more for her wayward sister-in-law Orpah. I refer my reader to Grace Goldin's Midrash on Ruth (36–7):

“Wife of my Chilion, Orpah, go your ways; I am returning to my own far country [Israel], Where we greet foreigners with scanty praise And treat idolaters with some effrontery; And it were well for Ruth to go with you Back to the atmosphere you always knew. What can I give you, girl? I am rock poor, I cannot dress you, cannot shelter you; You will be stoned as an idolater Or taken cooly when you turn a Jew; Our tongue is difficult, our very air Is dryer, and our dew is not your dew; You will not find in Judah anywhere The courtliness you are accustomed to.” Then Orpah kissed her mother[-in-law], and shed four— Four little tears she shed, for Chilion's sake; And turned about reluctantly, to take The road to Moab, to her father's door; But Ruth went on, her eyes like some gold lake, Holding Naomi's elbow, as before. “You were too harsh with Orpah,” Ruth declared. “Had you but coaxed her as she dared you to She might have gone the difficult way with you.” “We are forbidden bribery, my Ruth,” Replied Naomi, marching steadily now, Down a curve of white, ill-populated hills, “Since only those who come with extreme love For heaven and heavenly things, and love of God, Are welcome to be Jews.”

It's hard to be white, and it's hard to be Jewish, and it's hard to be Christian. However, an enterprising slave convert can be accepted by Christians as one free like them, according to the book of Philemon. Shem and Japheth who loved higher things were given Noah's blessing but it was denied Ham who loved lower things. For Whites to give them our paradise then, after the fact, would be tantamount to bribery, forbidden. This status hierarchy was passed down from generation to generation, from father to son, but democracy is bottom heavy, and the baby boomers were idealistic activists and the blacks got their wish through legislation as far as that goes.

The Sum ofaf gives us a black man as director of the CIA though his biblical status à la Noah should be much lower. Here we run afoul of, (Prov. 30:21-22) “the earth is disquieted, and … it cannot bear: For a servant when he reigneth.” We have the following scene en route to Russia:

Cabot: Jack... Jack, what are you doing? Jack: Oh... I had a date tonight, so I had to call and cancel... Cabot: Well, don't be stupid! Tell her where you're going. In fact, tell her who you work for. She'll be impressed. Jack: [to Cathy, over the phone] OK. I work for the CIA, and the Director asked me at the last minute to come with him to Russia with him to do a nuclear arms inspection. Hello? Cathy: That is so lame. Jack: No, I swear, it's because of the START treaty, we get to inspect to make sure they're really decommissioning their nuclear arsenal... [Cathy hangs up] Jack: Hello... hello? [Cabot starts laughing] Jack: Thanks. Thanks a lot.

President's speechCabot was jiving him and that resulted in disquieting his relationship with Cathy. To make up for it Cabot gives Jack tickets for the cor­res­pon­dents' dinner at the Hilton, the “hottest ticket in town” where even world-savvy Rita acknowledged the place is “nice.” So Jack and Cathy dressed in their finest are seated at a front table listening to the President's speech. At the table with them are Cabot and his wife, the sole black folk there. Every­body's pager goes off at the same time and people scramble for the doors. As Cabot's wife walks past their table she bumps a wine glass breaking it. The camera is focused on the broken glass, but in the background is a blurred image of the colored wife seated back in the chair she'd just left but now wearing a dowdy dress as would befit a scrub­woman, one to “live by the production of her hands.” The dream is over and it's wake-up call. [I classified the picture as Fantasy rather than dock it points for an editing miscue.]

In the situation room Cabot asks Jack for some analysis and Jack, emboldened by Cabot's earlier jive about a senator's appearance, gives in to his stubborn streak making a fool of him­self and destroying his credibility with this group, a credibility he might later need if he is to thwart a nuclear war the earth cannot bear.

Production Values

” (2002) was directed by Phil Alden Robinson. Its screen­play was written by Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne based on Tom Clancy's novel, The Sum of All Fears. It stars Ben Affleck, Morgan Freeman and Ian Mongrain. Affleck plays the reluctant spy to a tee. He has an excellent supporting cast. The evil exuded by the Nazis was palpable.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for violence, disaster images and brief strong language. The special effects were realistic. The Super Bowl scene takes place in Baltimore, the teams portrayed by the Toronto Argonauts & the Montreal Alouettes. The movie was shot in the province of Québec, and I'm not sure but they didn't use Canadians for the foot­ball fans; with flags aloft their exuberance exceeds Americans at their best. “The Star Spangled Banner” was sung with real gusto by a credited Arnold McCaller who standing tall and sporting an earring resembled Michael Jordan at his peak. There was no nonsense of taking a knee here. The Canadians [?] made excellent Americans.

A spectacular musical score befitting the action and suspense was by Jerry Goldsmith. Colorful and atmospheric cinema­tog­raphy was by John Lindley. Faultless editing with care for detail was by Nicolas de Toth. It's about two hours long.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This was classic Tom Clancy adapted to the big screen. An action/thriller with a touch of romance and intrigue. All the elements were there, and you'll get your money's worth if that's what you're after.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Print. Software.

Goldin, Grace. Come Under the Wings, A Midrash on Ruth. Philadelphia: The Jewish Society of America, 1958, 1980 / 5740. Print.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

The Book of Jasher. Translated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo lithographic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, Web.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

Williams, T. Harry, Richard N. Current, and Frank Freidel. A History of the United States [since 1865]. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1960. Print.