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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.
For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Sum of All Fears can be found here.
The President of Russia has just died of a heart attack, and a new President -- Alexander Nemerov (Ciarán Hinds), an unknown commodity -- has been named. However, U.S. President Robert Fowler (James Cromwell), his advisers, and various CIA officials fear that Nemerov is a political hardliner, so CIA director William Cabot (Morgan Freeman) recruits young CIA historian Dr Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck), who once wrote a paper on Nemerov, to supply his analysis and advice on the situation. U.S. suspicions about Nemerov are further supported when Grozny, the capital city of Chechnya, is hit by a chemical weapon and Nemerov claims responsibility (when, in reality, he has no idea who is responsible). When a nuclear bomb is suddenly detonated in a football stadium in Baltimore, no further proof is needed. As hostilities accelerate between the U.S. and Russia, Jack suspects that Nemerov didn't order the attacks and tries to find out what is really going on before SNAPCOUNT - the order to launch ICBMs at Russia - is completed.
The Sum of All Fears is also a 1991 novel by American author Tom Clancy. It is the fifth novel in the Jack Ryan series, and the fourth of the Jack Ryan books to be made into movies, preceded by The Hunt for Red October (1990), Patriot Games (1992), and Clear and Present Danger (1994), and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014). Without Remorse is currently in development without an expected release date. The screenplay for Sum of All Fears was written by American screenwriters Paul Attanasio and Daniel Pyne.
Because he doesn't know who ordered the attack whether it was done by terrorists or a rogue group within his own army. Nevertheless, he explains to his close adviser, former KGB assassin Anatoli Grushkov (Michael Byrne), it is 'better to appear guilty than impotent.'
Spinnaker is Cabot's secure source inside the Kremlin. They exchange info with each other, keeping 'the back channels open in hopes of staving off disaster.' His identity is revealed at the end of the movie.
Unable to speak to President Fowler, who is busy in the National Military Command Center (NMCC) ordering a strike on Russia, Jack uses the hotline to get the message to Nemerov that he knows the bomb that hit Baltimore was NOT Russian. The bomb was salvaged from a downed Israeli A-4 jet in 1973 and sold to a neofascist who then paid the three 'missing' Russian scientists to activate it. The bomb was then hidden inside a cigarette machine and shipped to the U.S. where it was placed in the Baltimore Stadium and detonated in an attempt to set the U.S. and Russia at each others' throats. Jack asks Nemerov to stand down his forces as a show of good faith, which Grushkov supports. Consequently, Nemerov calls off the attack on the United States, and President Fowler follows suit, calling off the U.S. attack on Russia. With the crisis diverted, Jack heads over to Memorial Hospital to find Cathy (Bridget Moynahan) unharmed. The participants in the conspiracy are assassinated: Olson (Colm Feore) by John Clark (Liev Schreiber), General Dubinin (Evgeniy Lazarev) by Russian agents, and Dressler (Alan Bates) by Grushkov. Fowler and Nemerov sign mutual nuclear disarmament agreements and address the public on the South Lawn of the White House while Jack and Cathy are picnicking near the National Mall. They are approached by Grushkov, who reveals his identity as Spinnaker and invites Jack to keep in touch with him, just as Bill Cabot used to do. In the final scene, Grushkov gives Cathy an engagement present, which astounds her because Jack only asked her to marry him that morning. Jack asks Grushkov how he could know, but Grushkov just shrugs his shoulders, smiles, and walks away.
The nuclear bomb was intended to repulse the invading Syrian Army which was making threatening gains into Israeli-held territory. The Skyhawk is destroyed by a surface-to-air missile (SAM), and the bomb crashes into the desert where it is buried by sand over the years. In the novel, four Israeli Skyhawks were each armed with a nuclear bomb. When the Syrian Army advance is halted in the Golan Heights, the necessity for the strike is averted. But chaos on the airfield, which involved a damaged F-4E Phantom igniting leaking fuel upon landing, result in a nuclear bomb being accidentally left on the fourth Skyhawk during the rearming process. All four Skyhawks are lost in an attack on a Syrian SAM battery. The unarmed nuclear bomb broke loose from the fourth Skyhawk as it disintegrated in mid-air, burying itself meters from the home of a Druze farmer. It is obtained by PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) terrorists years later.
It is never explained in the film. In the novel, the Skyhawk was lost within Syrian territory east of the Purple Line (now a United Nations buffer zone), close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. Furthermore, Israel did not know there was a nuclear bomb missing until three days after the Skyhawk was lost over the Golan Heights. But it was not until the day after the Yom Kippur War ended that they were able to reconstruct the details of its loss.
Not exactly. Though Ben Affleck does try to emulate Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford in some parts, this film is largely treated as a separate continuity from the preceding films. Evidence of this is the fact that the technology used is obviously present-day (such as the use of e-mail and cell phones), while The Hunt for Red October took place during the Reagan administration. It's also clearly set in a post-Cold War world. This also explains the apparent contradiction of having Jack Ryan meet John Clark for the first time in both this film and Clear and Present Danger. Finally, Jack and Catherine are in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship in this film, while they were married in the other three films.
Clancy heavily criticised the film, mainly for its technical flaws. In the DVD commentary with director Phil Alden Robinson, Clancy introduced himself as "the guy who wrote the book they ignored." He slammed Robinson's work throughout the commentary.
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