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Fasten Your Seat Belt, Comrade
8/10 Tom Clancy is a gearhead whose books I find nearly impossible to get into. So it's a surprise to find one of his novels, adapted on screen, is not only good but as enjoyable and riveting as is "The Hunt For Red October."3 years ago
Sean Connery plays a Soviet sub skipper, Marko Ramius, who at the height of the Cold War is put at the helm of his navy's most advanced creation, the Red October, a nuclear-missile carrier with a propulsion system that enables it to elude sonar. After he puts out to sea, Ramius has a letter delivered to a senior Soviet official that sends the U.S.S.R. into panic mode. The U.S. wonders why. Has Ramius gone nuts? Will the U.S. be able to stop him before he has the ability to park his missiles along the Eastern Seaboard? Or is CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) correct in suggesting another reason for Ramius's aberrant behavior?
Some have speculated this story is not completely fictional. Watching this film, it's easy to understand why. "The Hunt For Red October," on screen, moves with uncommon verity for a spy yarn. With a zest for detail and the human equation, director John McTiernan examines the inner workings not only of the Red October but of the subs, ships, and helicopters chasing it as well as the corridors of power where the fate of the Red October and perhaps the world must be decided. You get the feeling at times you are not just watching an ace popcorn thriller but sitting in on some undocumented bit of history.
The movie's chief strengths are its moody lighting, its unrelenting pace, and especially its deep bench of acting talent. Connery suggests a note of uncertainty to Ramius that keeps the audience on its toes. For the longest time, we don't know what he's up to. Baldwin plays Ryan in a very realistic way that establishes his basically gentle, bookish nature but underscores the depths of his heroism as he pursues an increasingly dangerous path no one else believes in. Scott Glenn is terrific as a crusty U.S. sub commander, while Stellan Skarsgard glowers effectively in-between cigarette puffs as a cagey Soviet. Richard Jordan, in one of his last roles, steals every scene he's in as the National Security Adviser.
There's a nice bit of business between Ryan and Jordan's Jeffrey Pelt where Ryan sticks his neck out and Pelt pounces, telling the analyst that if he believes Ramius is defecting, he should go out there and try to collect him. Pelt's no humanitarian, understand, he just wants to keep his options open: "Listen, I'm a politician, which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies I'm stealing their lollipops." That's the best thing about the movie. Even as it ups the ante on what's at stake, and feeds you with outlandish moments of humor and drama, the motivations of the characters, and their reactions to increasingly hypertense situations, are kept grounded in reality.
The ending comes off a bit pat, and the behavior of Capt. Ramius and his officers seems at times questionable, but the film doesn't slip in any discernible way, unless you're Russian and notice Connery's Lithuanian "brogue." In fact, it's a rare techno-thriller that not only holds up with repeat viewings, but manages to be even more exciting the more one understands what is going on.
McTiernan is making a guy film here, but he does a nice job providing some brain food, too. Notice how the transition on having the Soviet characters speak Russian to English turns on the word "Armageddon," or the clever interplay between Ramius and his questioning crew. There's a lot going on here, and it makes the film worth treasuring.
A submarine classic
9/10 'Red October' did for modern submarine warfare what 'Das Boot' did for WWII. It took a concept that is inconceivable to most people (living in a boat underwater with people trying to blow you up) and brought it up close and personal. The resulting suspense and excitement for this type of film is always extremely entertaining and this film delivers nicely.3 years ago
Tom Clancy's thrilling novel converts well to the big screen. Clancy is a master of making improbable tales of international intrigue seem plausible. This story of a Soviet sub commander who is trying to defect to the U.S. adds a unique twist to the suspense normally associated with submarine films.
John McTiernan, who is building an enormous reputation in the action/adventure genre did a fabulous job as director. This film focused less on the submarine and its crew than its cousin 'Das Boot', and more on the international intrigue angle. McTiernan is very effective in keeping up the pace and giving the viewer riveting suspense as smart torpedos chase subs through the murky deep.
As always, Sean Connery was powerful as the defecting captain, determined not to allow this first strike weapon to start a nuclear holocaust. Connery gave his character both a conscience and a ruthless commitment, stopping at nothing to reach his goal.
Alec Baldwin turns in one of his better performances as Jack Ryan. Unlike Harrison Ford who made Ryan into an action hero in other Tom Clancy adaptations, Baldwin seemed better cast as the CIA nerd who was thrust into a field situation without any real experience. In this way, I felt he was a better representation of the character as Clancy originally wrote him.
This is a highly entertaining and engrossing film that will keep most action and suspense viewers on the edge of their seats. I rated it a 9/10.
A thinking man's James Bond - One of the best films I've ever seen.
10/10 It's almost 10 years now but I am still awed by the caliber of the film. McTiernan has made a moderately good book by Clancy into an outstanding political thriller.3 years ago
The complexity of the film is particularly challenging. Clancy plots are notorious for beginning with several different threads that interweave somewhere in the book. Screenwriter Larry Ferguson takes apart those threads and models a film based on dual protagonists, Connery and Baldwin. The myriad of supporting actors (including current TN Sen. Fred Thompson) that appear on screen subsequently all have distinct but nonetheless crucial roles to the plot.
Baldwin, in what is and will probably be his career best role ever, shines as the intelligent and patriotic Jack Ryan, a thinking man's hero. Connery lends incredible presence, as usual, to his interpretation of Ramius.
A pure masterpiece.
The action-thriller to end all action-thrillers
10/10 After seeing this movie, you'll wonder how Hollywood manages to turn out so many junk-action movies, now that they've figured out the right formula. To be fair, the vast majority of action movies don't have the benefit of Tom Clancy's greatest novel (granted, 'Sum of All Fears' was a very, very close second, for me). High tension and realistic (emphasis on that last word) depictions of modern warfare make for an excellent story.3 years ago
Nonetheless, there are a few key qualities that shouldn't go unnoticed to today's directors. First (again) is the basis of a good plot that actually captures your attention, makes you think, and puts you on the edge of your seat. Second is the high caliber of actors: James Earl Jones, Alec Baldwin (I'm a Harrison Ford fan, but I still think Baldwin was far better for the role), and - last but certainly not least - Sean Connery. I'm sure this wasn't cheap, but when you look at the product produced by three of the best professional actors, it's worth every penny. Third, is the great music; nothing too over the top, but well-orchestrated, and featuring a great set of pieces by a Russian men's choir (hard to go wrong!). Lastly, the great use of special effects, from which George Lucas himself could use a clue or two: it smoothly supports, and doesn't take the place of or interfere with, the development of the plot.
This is my #2 favorite movie of all-time, but you don't have to take my word for it. See it yourself! You'll be glad you did.
The captain of all submarine movies
5/10 Because of the intrigue this film offers, the circumstances involved tie up neatly in a very convincing way. Needing all of the variables to fall into place if his defection hopes to be successful, Soviet (although Lithuanian by birth) submarine Captain Ramius (Sean Connery) is a very worthy submarine captain. Never cracking under pressure and carrying out his duty professionally, Ramius is the perfect ally to the west in keeping the balance between the super powers in their military endeavours.3 years ago
Alec Baldwin is good as Jack Ryan. I wish he had stayed on as this character in 'Patriot Games' and 'Clear and Present Danger', because although I like Harrison Ford better as a movie star/actor, Baldwin just seemed better for this role. Too bad he left.
Director John McTiernan uses a smooth pace and lets the screenplay speak louder than his role as the man in charge of it all and the film's photography is tense along with the editing and sound. An Oscar winner for sound effects editing, 'The Hunt for Red October' will put a submarine in your living room if you have the DVD 5.1. surround sound. It's positively realistic!