Review: Hunter Killer

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: After the Russian president is kidnapped by a mutiny seeking general, a tough as nails captain is sent on a mission to rescue him in an untested American submarine.

REVIEW: Gerard Butler is back, but this time he is a submarine captain named Joe Glass. Although to be fair, Glass isn’t all that different from the character he played in the other films where he tried to rescue a president and such. He’s yet another tough guy who has to save somebody from a bunch of baddies. However, in HUNTER KILLER, he appears to still be having a good time with the deep sea action. Directed by Donovan Marsh, the rest of the cast features a few fine performers including Gary Oldman, Common and Linda Cardellini, as well as a young cast of tough guys ready to run silent and run deep. With a bit of a messy start, this underwater action flick manages to bring a bit of energy to the formulaic plot. And frankly, the last half of this flick is pretty damn enjoyable. 

After an American sub is seemingly attacked, Captain Joe Glass is brought in to bring his own team down into the depths to investigate. Of course, tough guy Glass plays by his own set of rules and that doesn’t click with everyone on board the submarine. Meanwhile, we find that the attack was only means to something more sinister and devious. Soon, the sub crew, as well as a small group of soldiers sent by land, make their way to rescue the Russian president from a dangerous general with devious plans.

hunter killer gary oldman gerard butler common linda cardellini donovan marsh action submarine

Let’s start with the negative. The opening sequence of HUNTER KILLER is really bad. There is really no getting around it. This moment where a submarine is shot down looks ridiculously fake, and it is only there as a set up to the entire movie. One good aspect is that it doesn’t reveal too much about the why of the situation. Yet after that, the stereotypical character introductions arrive where they convince Glass to do the job. Early on things looked bleak for this undersea action thriller. However, about a half hour in, the ride becomes quite a bit more enjoyable.

As far as Butler is concerned, this guy could play this role in his sleep. He’s charismatic as Joe Glass, and he has a commanding presence so you believe he could handle all the guys plotting mutiny against their seemingly flawed captain. As for the young cast, all the actors are fine, yet the performances are strictly in service of the plot. In fact, as fun as this ride can be, it isn’t one that will stick with you for very long. This is the kind of movie that you can just take in and escape for a couple of hours with popcorn and a soda. Yet it was nearly impossible to really remember much of the what happens in this two hour flick after the fact.

The best section of HUNTER KILLER is the final half hour or so. Impressively, the action mounts up and the ultimate rescue is filled with more than a handful of fist clenching moments. And while the effects were so horrible in the first few minutes, they seem to improve afterwards. Perhaps it could just be that I was willing to forgive some of that because the action was enough to keep one's mind off of it. Ultimately what you have is a predictable, yet occasionally intense tale of international intrigue. And frankly, I had more fun with Butler in this than I did when he was rescuing another president in OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN.

hunter killer gerard butler gary oldman linda cardellini common submarine adventure

HUNTER KILLER is far from a perfect movie. Yet it doesn’t try to be much more than it is, a decent popcorn flick with Gerard Butler doing his thing. If that sounds like a good time then you’ll most likely enjoy yourself. It also features one particular sequence of skydivers jumping into a lightening storm which is especially cringeworthy considering another movie starring Tom Cruise did it much better this past summer – FALLOUT this is not. The biggest issue with this is that it is simply so forgettable. That said, if I saw it on Netflix or cable, I’d absolutely tune out and enjoy the ride. If you are looking for a great action flick, you won’t find that here. However, this Hunter may be worth tracking down for undersea adventure fans looking for a little bit of dumb fun.

Review: Hunter Killer




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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.