The time when audiences could be comfortably removed from cinematic depictions of terrorist attacks on America is well and truly over.
The latest adaptation from Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels, "The Sum of All Fears" deals with a chillingly topical nuclear attack on Baltimore. But perhaps more disturbingly, it rehashes it into a Ben Affleck action romance.
The story kicks off when generic European neo-Nazis get hold of an errant nuclear weapon, lost by the Israelis in the 70s. Their plan: to detonate it during the Superbowl attended by the president (Cromwell), pointing the blame towards Russia and sending the two superpowers into nuclear conflict.
Affleck (stepping into the shoes of both Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford) plays Ryan as a rookie CIA analyst-turned-agent whose knowledge of the new Russian president (Hinds) is all that stands between the American president's finger and the big red detonator button.
The question is whether Ryan will be able to convince CIA Director William Cabot (Freeman) before it's too late.
Under the direction of Phil Alden Robinson ("Field of Dreams"), "The Sum of All Fears" is a solid apocalyptic thriller, glossy and with some stunning special effects.
But for all its apocalyptic fear-mongering, the film remains distinctly uninvolving, relying on dubious plot devices and ultimately sidelining some good actors and a disturbing plot to centre on Ryan's private life.
Though not a bad performance in itself, Affleck's presence is just unsuitable for the subject matter, as is the addition of a paltry love story in the shape of Bridget Moynahan.
The fact that Baltimore has been turned into a smouldering pile of radioactive rubble is forgotten and pretty much inconsequential, so long as Ryan's girlfriend has survived the blast. Ah, if only it was that simple.