Interview: Still Flying
International: President Gas
Politics: Australia: A Rogue State?
Unions: Welfare Max
Bad Boss: Welcome to Telstra!
Health: Fat Albert: The Grim Reaper
Satire: Iraq Pre-empts Pre-emptive Strike
Poetry: A Man From the East And A Man From The West
Review: The Sum Of All Fears
The Locker Room
Week in review
The Legacy of 11/9
The CFMEU Race Debate #2
Keeping it Clean
Sue the Leaders?
The Sum Of All Fears
When President Bush's chief political advisor last September called for Hollywood to contribute to the "war on terrorism" he probably did not mean it to achieve this end by terrorising moviegoers. But that is exactly what Phil Alden Robinson's The Sum Of All Fears achieves.
It all starts in 1973 when Egypt and Syria launch an attack on Israel. The US steps in but accidentally loses a nuclear missile in a sand dune when one of its air jets goes down. There it stays until 29 years later a poverty struck family uncover it, dust it off, and sell it for US$400 to a wicked terrorist with shifty eyes and an appetite for evil.
His plans to drop it on the US Super Bowl gives the producers mega opportunities to include scenes of American flag wavers, baseball stars, cheerleaders, product placement courtesy of the tobacco and sportswear industries, and even a heartfelt rendition of Star Spangled Banner. When it comes to self-promotion the US remains unbeatable.
But will they be able to beat this guy? Craftily disguising his attack as a Russian government initiative, he pits the two presidents against each other in a battle of wits across the miles in which neither knows who is telling the truth.
"We must demonstrate the strength of our weapons," an advisor whispers in the Russian president's ears.
"Mr President, we are now in a state of de facto war with the Russians," an advisor informs the US president.
"I spent my entire life wanting to be president and now this is my presidency," the US president sulks back.
Thankfully however, a humble historian (played by Ben Affleck) has a reliable hunch that all is not as it seems, gains access to the CIA headquarters and gets on the blower to Russia.
What happens next? Does the world, as we know it, cease to exist? Does Ben save both the day and the planet? Has Hollywood finally lost the plot beyond all retrievability? And save a thought for all the embarrassed Americans out there who must surely have overtaken Australians long ago in any cultural cringe stakes.
Without wanting to give the game away, it is quite a revelation see that coming within 30 seconds of the end of the world as we know it could be so dull.
But as for representing the sum of all fears, though the title would suggest this movie is a little scary, the most frightening thing was that I was that I had actually paid to see it.
Rating: one out of five (Recommended viewing only as a sedative)
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