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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
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.
'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.
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.
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
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!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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
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.
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
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.
It's been argued that "any viewer knowing anything about navies, the Cold War or the Russian language" will be disappointed by this movie. Well, that's rather like saying that anyone who knows anything about the fine-details of cartoon animation or the biology of rodents will be disappointed by 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'.'Red October', an emaciated version of a chunky Clancy novel, is a tight, sweaty thriller supported by a sterling cast;I mean, with the exception of maybe 'Beetlejuice' where else can you watch Alec Baldwin without wanting to slap his fat mug? McTiernan cuts all the flab from the base novel to present a lean little movie, and who in their right mind can possibly reprimand Connery for his accent? The man's played a British spy, an Irish cop, an Eygptian immortal and a Russian submarine captain all with the same brogue- who cares? He still portrays the role with all the nobility and world-weariness the part deserves.
"The Hunt for Red October" is taken off of military-expert Tom Clancy's
gripping novel. Tom Clancy has a knack for the inner-psyche of our fears. He
doesn't openly thrill us, but rather opens our minds to the potential
hazards in the US government. Most government/military thrillers skim the
surface and gather us a few good things to make us go, "Whoo," but Tom
Clancy's books make us fall over in amazement. The man has an incredible
knowledge of the government and its subsidaries, and his novels show
His film adaptations normally make good. All four are at least good, and one of them, "The Hunt for Red October," is taut, tense, and powerfully moving. The plot of the film is fictional, but it is right out of the headlines.
It is about a submarine, a Russian, and an American. It sounds like the setup for a bar-joke, but it's not. The Russian man is named Ramius (Sean Connery), who, along with his crew, takes a Soviet submarine out to the North Atlantic ocean. The sub is the best-of-the-best, with an all-new propolsion system (it's faster than other submarines), and uses advanced techniques to literally disappear off radar.
After a few days out at sea, the submarine vanishes off radar, and the Russians, frantic, tell the American government that Ramius has taken the sub to America's mainland to launch a missile attack. However, CIA Analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) thinks otherwise. He believes Ramius is defecting to the States along with his crew. Further, he believes the Russians don't want to admit this for fear of losing their best submarine.
The film is directed by John McTiernan, who brought us "Predator," "Die Hard," "The Thomas Crown Affair" (remake) and "Die Hard with a Vengeance." All of the preceding films are very good, most of them great, and "The Hunt for Red October" qualifies as "very good."
Sean Connery gives a commanding performance as the leading character, Ramius. His second-hand-man is played by Sam Neil, faking a Russian accent very badly. But Neil is lovable in his role, despite having the worst Russian accent ever. Tim Curry joins along for the ride on the misfortuned sub as well, and Alec Baldwin gives his best performance as Jack Ryan.
As much as I don't like to admit it, Harrison Ford isn't the ideal Jack Ryan for me. He differs too much from the character in the novel. Neither Ben Affleck nor Alec Baldwin take the cake, either. But if you look past the book persona, you will enjoy the performances in all the films much more.
I don't tend to like military thrillers most of the time. Most likely because they are put together sloppily on the whole. But "The Hunt for Red October" isn't sloppy, careless, nor boring. It's thrilling, exciting, and entertaining.
But the book is better.
4/5 stars -
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A Russian submarine, rigged with a stealth drive to hide the noise of the
screws, has slipped silently away from it's planned course. The Captain,
Ramius, has left a note indicating that he intends to defect to the US.
Desperate to stop the US acquiring the stealth technology Russia inform the
US of Ramius' plan to attack the US and engage their help in stopping him.
However CIA analysist Jack Ryan suspects Ramius may really be defecting and
sets out to help him. An underwater game of cat and mouse
The first of the Jack Ryan' films is almost the best. Not only do we do without Ford's rather dull and workmanlike performances, but also has a good story and sense of time. The story is solid it isn't flashy, but it delivers well. The only time it seems weak is when it goes away from the action to try and give a character background, eg Ryan with his family etc, then it is cheesy and forced. However when it is with the action it manages to be tense without being really exciting. The story never plods but at times it does move slow, however this is well played as tension and makes it more enjoyable.
However the film's main asset is simply put Connery. Despite playing a Russian with a Scottish accent, Connery is magnificent and dominates the screen no matter who he shares it with. He manages to make us care more about him than any of the American characters. Baldwin is good, he wasn't a star at this point but he makes a better Ryan than Ford did. The rest of the cast is deep in quality in both big roles and small roles. Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Joss Ackland, Richard Jordan, Tim Curry, Courtney Vance, Stellan Skarsgård, Jeffrey Jones etc (even a small role for McTiernan's dad). The deep cast helps add a touch of class to proceedings.
Overall this isn't a fantastic thriller, however it is classy and very solid in all departments. It may lack a certain spark but it is solidly entertaining throughout.
Fortuneately, this movie is not entirely true to Tom Clancy's vision and book. Tom Clancy is an American superpatriot and nationalist. He loves to gush about the superiority of the American military establishment and its high technology. This movie puts a more sympathetic face on the Russians and the commoner's point of view. Sean Connery plays a very likable Russian Submarine Commander. Of course, Sean Connery is always going to steal the show in any movie. He's kind of like the John Wayne of the last twenty five years. But the supporting actors are also engaging as well. Scott Glenn, Fred Thompson, and James Earl Jones all do very well at commanding our attention. These actors always give strong, interesting, and dynamic performances. With all the high technology and military hardware in this movie it is interesting to note how a simple seaman(an enlisted man at that!) solves the great technical puzzle in this movie. All the officers, admirals, computers, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and what have you are clearly stumped. But, Jonesy, with simple reasoning and a keen intuition, solves the riddle that is the Red October. Yes, he uses a computer to help him, but most importantly, he uses his mind! The strength of this movie is that with all the gadgetry and high technology, the human element is not lost but is always on top. Plus, it does not degrade into pro-American propaganda. Because of this, I think that people who know nothing about the military or who don't even like war movies will find this movie enjoyable.
This movie never fails to entertain me. Smartly directed, well written,
acted it always brings a fresh newness no matter how many times I've seen
it. It could have been the beginning of a franchise for Alec Baldwin. He
is very much centered and controlled. Sean Connery is also
Could recommend this to anyone without hesitation. On DVD it's a visual feast. Just a great looking movie. Wish that all the other Clancy books had been adapted so well.
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