Sum of All Fears: Book Vs. Movie *spoilers*

I just saw the movie on video. I haven’t read the book. But I have just finished reading Rainbow Six.

Is Clancy’s universe supposed to have continuity or does he just use the characters over and screw with the time frame? Or… in the movie of Sum did they make Jack Ryan younger because they wanted to cast Ben Affleck?

Reason being… while the movie gives no specific time frame, it happens after 1995… because they mention something happening in 1995. Now, Rainbow Six takes places in 2000 and has John Clark as a feature character. Clark is pushing 60 in Rainbow Six but in the movie of Sum he was in his thirties.

Now are we to believe that both Patriot Games and Clear and Present take place before Sum? Where Jack Ryan is an established CIA officer… but in Sum he’s only been working there for something like 13 months?

Someone explain it to me, it boggles the mind how Ryan is so young in Sum yet it takes place after 1995…

I thought I’d ease your suffering by telling you that your second idea is correct.

The timeframe of the Clancy universe was warped when they wanted to case Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan instead of Harrison Ford. I guess they wanted to cast Mr.Affleck to reach a younger audience or something.

I can also inform you that there was no neo-nazi conspiracy in the book, but I guess the thought of making a movie about Islam extremists nuking the Super Bowl was just too hard to handle post 9/11. I can’t say I blame them, but I would have opted to not make the movie at all, because as it ended up it is a bland movie with a stupid conspiracy and it’s too obviously toned down after the NYC events.

Actually, the continuity was royally screwed up when they hired Ford, not Affleck. Jack Ryan, at the time of Patriot Games, was about 32 years old, making him younger then the events in Hunt For Red October while the actor playing him was decidedly older than the actor who portrayed him in the earlier film.

Tom Clancy was quite pissed about the casting of Ford, and for good reasons - it totally screwed with any sort of continuity.

Here are the films in chronogical order (judging from Ryan’s life, not when they were published) and the ages of the people who played him. I’m sure you can see how things got screwed up:

(2) Patriot Games: 32 year old JR played by 50 year old Harrison Ford.

(1) Hunt For Red October: 35-ish JR played by 32 year old Alec Baldwin.

(3) Clear and Present Danger: 38-ish JR played by 52 year old Harrison Ford.

(4) Sum of all Fears: 42-ish JR played by 30 year old Ben Affleckted. :wink:

Numbers in parenthesis show the order of the movies, as produced.

In short, only Hunt for Red October got Jack Ryan’s correct age.

" not when they were published" should be " not when they were filmed."

Oh, the OP also mentioned Clark: “Clark is pushing 60 in Rainbow Six but in the movie of Sum he was in his thirties.”

The movie was wrong, the book was right. Clark’s portrayal also has been messed up by Hollywood, which pissed Clancy off as well. In the book “Sum of All Fears”, Clark is an instructor and only goes on ops when the plot demands it. :wink: But seriously, in Sum he is married with a daughter old enough to marry Ding Chavez, and this child was born relatively late in his life (well, in his 30’s at least, given the events of “Without Remorse.”)

The movie was destined to suck when they decided on the whole idiotic neo-Nazi thing. Most neo-Nazi and racist groups are filled with idiots, most of them cowards, who could never pull off such a large-scale plan.
Radical Islamic terrorists have been responsible for the vast majority of terrorist acts committed in the last 50 years and it was nothing but craven cowardice and PC snivelling that made them replace the Islamic terrorists from the book with PC-hateable white Europeans.

All these questions and more are explained in the director’s commentary on the Sum of all Fears DVD. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the answers, only that they were discussed. I rented it, so I can’t double-check.

The ‘Jack Ryan’ books do stick to a real timeline but the books were not published in order. Here is a link that explains the publishing order of the books vs. the timeline of the books.

The movies, on the other hand, warp the timeline so badly that it is just a joke.

Clancy is pretty vocal about how badly the movies have treated his stories.

Clancy also responds to posts in his newsgroup, alt.books.tom-clancy, sometimes. I think it is really cool that Clancy replies, most authors don’t.


I liked the book MUCH better, but the movie wasn’t terrible.

And nemo, Rainbow Six was one of 2 books that have ever made me feel sick. I loved it. What did you think of it?

The commentary also included Clancy himself, talking about the film with the director, Phil Alden Robinson. I pretty much took the cue from Clancy on his first words in the commentary track: “Hi, I’m Tom Clancy. I wrote the book they ignored.” Yeah, pretty much.

That said, I rather liked the film. I didn’t particularly like Affleck, but I thought that many of the scenes were well-done, and if not for the fact that they had given away the fact that a nuclear detonation would take place in the trailers, the way it was done in the film would have made a nice surprise. As it was, its placement and the way it was handled was still quite original… none of the usual cliches such as a ticking clock or someone finding the bomb at the last moment. It just happens. Nice touch. Liev Schreiber was also a well-played character with some real depth. Even Clancy, while being somewhat snippy about the differences between his Clark and the film’s Clark, had to admit that Schreiber played it convincingly.

The film definitely twisted Clancy’s story until it was unrecognizable, but I liked it on its own merits. Note that I’m not a big Clancy fan. I thought the film was a fairly solid thriller.

I have to admit it was quite original. But IMHO I think it was a big difference from the book. Clancy devotes an entire chapter to describing the three microseconds after the bomb is set off. And half of the book describes the actual bomb construction, which is also ignored in the movie. But for some reason I also liked the film.

Oh, and before you excuse Phil Alden Robinson for this lame-ass movie because of post Sept. 11 sensibilities, I’m fairly certain the decision to switch around the bad guys was made long before that. I’m also fairly certain that shooting for the movie was even completed before Sept. 11.

Another neat book vs. movie piece of trivia: Clancy switched the explosion from Denver to Baltimore because his ex-wife, who cleaned out Clancy in his divorce, now lives in Baltimore.

My wife and I just rented this DVD over the weekend. On the special features, Robinson says the reason for the bad guy switch was indeed made long before September 11 and had nothing to do with political correctness. He said that Clancy’s book had a pretty complex chain of “bad guys” that couldn’t be coherently explained given the time constraints of film. Thus, they needed to have one coherent group with fairly clear motivations. And since they needed a terrorist group that, in addition to the nuclear bombing, could plausibly also cause a Russian attack on a US aircraft carrier and since the Palestinians couldn’t possibly plausibly do that by themselves, they switched to the whole European neo-Nazi thing.

It’s been waaaaaaaaay too long since I’ve read the book to know if that’s plausible or not. Anyone with a better memory care to critique this filmmaking decision?

Well, IIRC, there was no Russian attack on a US carrier in the book, so that is a red herring. The decision was made because they were afraid of the Arab-American community boycotting the movie.

RikWriter: No, but there were East German elements in the consipiracy in the book, and although I forget the details those elements do cause the Russians to attack US troops in some capacity (at least one fan site corroborates my memory of the book’s events).

Dewey: The East German elements pose as Russians by commandeering some tanks and attacking American bases in Germany, IIRC.

I just saw this movie finally. But not on DVD, so no director’s commmentary. Some questions:

  1. The whole nuclear brinkmanship between the U.S. and the Russians was actually from another Tom Clancy book, right? Anyone remember which one? Seems like that means that one is unadaptable into a movie now.

  2. Is there a version/cut scenes that show more of the nuclear explosion? All I saw was the shockwave hitting the hospital, the limos getting thrown off the road, and the helicopter getting hit. And the mushroom cloud from far away. Shouldn’t there have been at least some scenes showing the actual stadium? That was some of the most vivid stuff in the book.

  3. Are they working on any other Clancy books at the moment?

I thought Without Remorse was by far the most entertaining of Clancy’s novels, and I have read most of them…it has the most emotional content and compelling character, not to mention the coolest title. When i first read it i was sure that it would be made into a film…does anyone know why this hasn’t happened?

Also who do you think should play, should have played Clark…although I like him, I would have never considered Willem Dafoe for that role.

IIRC, it was in SoAF. After the nuke, the President thought it was the Russkies and wanted to nuke them. Ryan used the teletype thing to straighten things out.