The Jack Ryan franchise is a strange beast, one that’s spawned five movies with four different actors in the title role, two of which were reboots, along with an episodic show that’s run for two seasons on Amazon, with production on the third set to begin imminently. The series has varied wildly in quality over the last 30 years, and your opinion on who played the character best is entirely down to personal preference.
Alec Baldwin was pitted against Sean Connery in Die Hard director John McTiernan’s classic The Hunt for Red October, before the leading man was usurped by Harrison Ford, the only star to play Ryan twice. Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger are both entertainingly glossy political thrillers, but once Ford declined to return for The Sum of All Fears, Ben Affleck was hired and handed a $10 million paycheck to embody the unproven analyst during the formative years of his career.
The film was a decent-sized box office success, earning $193 million globally on a $68 million budget, while reviews were perfectly acceptable across the board. The Sum of All Fears isn’t a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it still didn’t come close to matching the high bar set by its three predecessors, even with Morgan Freeman lending his syrupy tones and talent for turning dry exposition into something interesting as CIA director William Cabot.
There’s a bold mid-movie twist that not a lot of Hollywood blockbusters would even consider pulling off, which creates plenty of intrigue as the story hurtles towards its conclusion. The Sum of All Fears is now streaming on Netflix, and as a star-powered thriller, it stands a good chance of cracking the most-watched list.