The Sum of All Fears

Movie review by
Carly Kocurek, Common Sense Media
The Sum of All Fears Movie Poster Image
Generic action film not good for kids, or anyone.
  • PG-13
  • 2002
  • 123 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There are some individual killings as well as disaster images.


The Superbowl figures largely in the plot.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some drinking and smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a fairly typical blow-'em-up movie. Characters drink, smoke, curse, kill one another, and commit espionage and acts of terrorism. The film addresses the worst case scenario for a missing nuclear weapon, which has fallen into the hands of a terrorist group based in the Middle East. The film's representation of Middle Eastern people and culture is two-dimensional. The destruction and violence depicted in the movie may be upsetting to younger viewers, and the film's political themes will likely confuse them.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byImdbtruth October 9, 2020

Sexual Content is Present

It's okay for some teens, but the website said there's no sexual content, and there's actually plenty of sexual content. In the first 15 minutes... Continue reading
Parent of a 8, 12, and 13-year-old Written byGOOD MOTHER November 23, 2010

Good movie!

I thought the over all movie was pretty good. Lot's of action and suspense. Good acting. Glad I watched it.
Teen, 14 years old Written byC-Rae April 8, 2013

Things not in the review

There was a scene near the beginning with a couple (not married) sleeping together. In the morning, they wake up and make out. Language includes a**hole, b*star... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by9001 May 14, 2010

Some disturbing violent content, violence, some sexual content, and some strong language.

I found particular aspects of this movie to be very disturbing. The scene in the dark room with the corpses was disturbing, and I find the scene where Freeman l... Continue reading

What's the story?

Based on the Tom Clancy novel of the same name, THE SUM OF ALL FEARS centers on Jack Ryan (Ben Affleck), a CIA pencil pusher called in to help provide insight to Russian-American relations after the assassination of the Russian president. When a low-yield nuclear bomb is detonated at the Superbowl, the CIA assumes that the Russians may well be to blame. Jack convinced otherwise, risks his career and his life to find the real explanation. The audience learns early in the film that the terrorist act is the work of a Middle Eastern terrorist cell that bought a stray nuclear weapon, and then watches Jack struggle to discover the same information.

Is it any good?

Filled with explosions and espionage, The Sum of All Fears is a typical big budget action film in most regards. It attempts to be thought-provoking, but manages only to be alarmist. The acting is nothing to write home about. As Jack Ryan, Ben Affleck does his best, which isn't saying much. Bridget Moynahan in the role of Dr. Cathy Muller, Morgan Freeman is consistent as Ryan's supervisor, DCI William Cabot. Similarly bland, the special effects in the film consist, unsurprisingly, of a series of explosions and shootings.

This isn't a terrible movie, but it's just middle-of-the-road action. The film's treatment of global politics is over-simplified. While the scenario outlined in the movie might be conceivable, it's highly unlikely. The film is too violent to make sense as family entertainment, and the political agenda means that the time it takes to watch the film might be better spent reading the newspaper.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about issues of arms races and nuclear weapons control. How likely is a scenario like the one depicted in this movie? What measures should be taken to keep nuclear weapons from becoming a threat? The film also addresses social responsibility. Jack Ryan risks his career and his life to ensure the safety of the American public. While this is clearly the "right" thing to do, how does Jack manage to make this risky decision?

Movie details

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