The Hunt for Red October (SE)
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A brand new super-silent Russian submarine is headed towards the United States with plenty of nuclear power on board. The Russian government claims that the sub is lost at sea, which is why they’ve sent their own fleet out looking for it, while the U.S. powers-that-be suspect that the rogue ship might be the preparing to launch an attack on their country. Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst with personal information about the renegade Russian commander, believes that he may be trying to defect to the United States. The Hunt for Red October ensues...
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Definitely my favorite of all the Jack Ryan movies, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER combines a potent political plotline, a slew of engaging characters, intrigue galore, thrills, intelligent banter, twists, turns, claustrophobic settings, stylish directing and an ending that will have you guessing until it completely plays itself out. I will admit that I have always been a “sucker” for submarine movies though, so the whole “closed quarters” angle, nautical jargon and slow-moving “thrill” scenes (“Take us to 800 feet…”) might not twist every one else’s tittie. Having said that, if a burgeoning build-up is something that you enjoy in your movies, this one is sure to please since it builds as it moves along, with each step taking you closer and closer to what truly seems like an unsolvable and extremely dire situation for the whole world (the film purports that the events fictionalized here might not be as “fictional” as we might believe).
The actors also bring the needed authenticity to the proceedings with Alec Baldwin doing a competent job of portraying the first Ryan in the series (the torch was later passed to Harrison Ford and then, Ben Affleck), while secondary players like Scott Glenn and Sam Neill bring even more credibility to the overall piece. Sean Connery is also pretty good, although his accent takes a little getting used to (he’s Russian and yet…), and he definitely takes up more screen-time than any other character in the Tom Clancy series. In fact, he feels more like the lead character here. But in the end, the story is what truly intrigued me with plenty of questions riding me along the whole way, tense moments leading to even greater tense moments and the weight of the results crawling under everyone’s skin. I’ve watched this movie a few times over the past year and I gotta say, it comes through every time. A great story, compassionate characters, thrills, chills and yes, even a tad of emotion to round things up. The man just wanted to see Montana...sniff, sniff.
Just like its two brother dvds, PATRIOT GAMES and CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER, this one includes a theatrical trailer, as well as a half-hour featurette entitled “The Hunt for Red October: Beneath the Surface” which includes interviews with all of the major players. Director John McTiernan shows up, Alec Baldwin provides his two cents, as well as some of the secondary players (yay Scott Glenn!), but not surprisingly, very little with Sean Connery (snippets from an old interview) and nothing, unfortunately, from author Tom Clancy. Biggest surprise? Kevin Costner was initially approached to play Jack Ryan but he was too busy making this “buffalo movie” (i.e. DANCES WITH WOLVES). This feature is enlightening and provides a decent amount of info for any fan of the film.
The disc also includes a commentary track by director John McTiernan. McTiernan starts his commentary off by saying that he hopes he will “remember" stuff about the filming as he watches the movie with us. This is always a sign of a boring track, which it actually turns out to be, but not as entirely fruitless as you might think. Despite an extremely monotone voice and silent moments spread about, McTiernan does actually present some cool facts about the filming, and comes off as quite unpretentious, explaining certain motivations that he had for specific scenes, but always following them up with a “I hope it worked…not sure if it did or not.” C'mon buddy...this is a great movie!! ROLLERBALL on the other hand...brrrrrrrrrr...
Although I’ve enjoyed all of the Jack Ryan movies, I have to admit that THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER is my personal favorite because it manages to combine everything that one could ask for in a political thriller including a strong story-line, interesting characters, plenty of suspense, nail-biting and entertainment all around. The dvd isn’t as impressive as one would hope in terms of extras, but the film is a definite “buy” for anyone who enjoys films of the sort, especially with its high rewatch value.