Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Totoro's Review Of... "The Hunt For Red October"

Since my fellow Executive Producer Mr. A has started posting reviews to older films, I have decided to add my two cents by reviewing the now-classic 1990 film The Hunt For Red October, starring Sean Connery & Alec Baldwin.

Here is my review...


The Story
The year is 1984. Sean Connery (Goldfinger, Murder On The Orient Express) stars as Marko Ramius, a veteran Soviet submarine commander assigned to Red October, his country's newest underwater ballistic missile platform. The ship is also equipped with a magneto-hydrodynamic "caterpillar" drive, rendering it virtually undetectable to enemy sonar. Ramius then murders the ship's political commissar and, after replacing the ship's mission orders and briefing the crew, activates the silent drive and sets a direct course for the American coastline. Before setting to sea, Ramius dispatches a letter stating that he and his officers intend to defect to the United States.

Meanwhile, CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) has recently arrived to Washington with intelligence photos of Red October. However while briefing Vice Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) at CIA Headquarters, he is told that the ship has already put out to sea. He then visits Skip Tyler (Jeffrey Jones), a Naval Academy instructor and consultant, and learns of the existence of ship's caterpillar drive. Later, at a briefing with National Security Advisor Jeffrey Pelt (Richard Jordan), Ryan voices the theory that Ramius might be attempting to defect. Pelt then sends Ryan on a mission to make contact with Ramius and learn his true intentions.

At around the same time, Captain Viktor Tupolev (Stellan SkarsgÄrd), a former student of Ramius and commanding officer of the Soviet submarine Konavalov receives word of Ramius' defection and decides to pursue and destroy Red October. Meanwhile, Ryan ends up aboard the USS Dallas, commanded by Captain Bart Mancuso (Scott Glenn), who has been pursuing Red October shortly after leaving port. Ryan ends up convincing Captain Mancuso to hear Ramius out, and devises a plan to safely recover Ramius, the other defecting officers, and Red October.

...Will Ryan's plan succeed? You'll have to watch the movie to find out. For those of you who already have, you know the answer.

The Review
This film would later go on to be a huge box office success, earning a worldwide total of $200 million during its theatrical run. The movie remains a classic example of the action-espionage genre, and became the first film in what would be known as the "Jack Ryan trilogy" which also include Patriot Games (1992) & Clear & Present Danger (1994). A later, less successful attempt to reboot the franchise resulted in the 2002 film The Sum of All Fears, with Ben Affleck as Jack Ryan.

While the entire cast (including Sam Neill as Red October 1st Officer Vasili Borodin & Tim Curry as Red October Medical Officer Dr. Yevgeniy Petrov) turn in stellar performances, the movie's Scene-Stealer Award belongs to Courtney B. Vance, who played USS Dallas Sonar Technician Ronald "Jonesey" Jones. Credit must also be given to the film's director, John McTiernan (Die Hard) and its co-editors Dennis Virkler (The Fugitive) & John Wright (Speed) for its taut pacing and clear narrative structure. Additionally, Director of Photography Jan De Bont (who would go on to direct Twister & The Haunting) deserves special recognition for developing the various interior lighting schemes for the three submarines in the film - Red October (Blue), Dallas (Red) and Konavalov (Green).

The Verdict
Despite diverging from Tom Clancy's novel in several areas (the order of key events was changed, the presence of the Royal Navy in the book was significantly scaled back, and Red October's silent drive is a pump-jet system in the novel as opposed to the magneto-hydrodynamic system seen in the film), the fact that this film still retains a 95% "Fresh" rating on is a testament to its enduring popularity. Additionally, the film would later win an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

In closing, if you're interested in seeing what has become one of the most beloved action/espionage/thriller movies of the past two decades, then look no further. I wholeheartedly recommend this film.


Totoro (Creator, Executive Producer)

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