Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Crimson Tide (1995)

Things are looking up.

K-19: The Widowmaker, even with Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson at the helm, was a disappointing view.

Crimson Tide is a much more solid effort, thanks in large part to a stronger one-two punch with Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington starring.

Russian nationals spark a major crisis when a civil war starts in the Soviet Union. Some of the communist country's nuclear weapons are seized in the uprising. There are fears the American west coast, or Washington, could be obliterated.

American submarine Alabama is tapped to head to the trouble zone and, if necessary, launch its arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Capt. Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) is the last skipper to have seen actual combat action. He chews through commanding officers with regularity. Lieut. Cmdr. Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) is next in line.

Ramsey commands by barking orders. "We're here to preserve democracy, not practise it," he tells Hunter. The new CO is more personable with the crew, while still demanding results. Ramsey is disdainful of Hunter's record, noting "the closest he's been to battle is a policy seminar."

The situation in Russia worsens. The sub gets orders to release its weapons, but not all the message is received. Ramsey wants to follow through. Hunter urges caution, noting if the order is misinterpreted mankind is doomed. Ramsey's not impressed: "We don't have time to f--- around."

Hunter wants to take control of the sub to prevent Ramsey from firing the missiles. He has his backers. Ramsey is determined to act on the order he received. The skipper has his supporters.

Frantic radio repairs are done while the clock ticks down to when Russian nationals can launch their missiles.

Crimson Tide has a great cast with support work from not-quite-known talents such as Viggo Mortensen and James Gandolfini. The back-and-forth between the two camps of crew members gets a little silly.

Watch for the cast, some solid tension and a nice cameo from Jason Robards.

Next sub drama to watch: Das Boot.

RATING: 7.5/10

FUN FACTS: Viggo Mortensen's first film role was Peter Weir's Witness.

George Dzundza, who appears as Chief of the Boat, appeared in The Deer Hunter.

Didn't recognize him, but that's Rick Schroder as Lieut. Paul Hellerman and, in his film debut, Ryan Phillippe as Seaman Grattam.

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