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Perspective from a real nuclear submariner
Schaden14 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
( I wrote a lot more but had to edit cause of the 1000 word limit) As a drama Hollywood type sub flick, I gave Crimson Tide a 6. But I just watched it on HBO tonight and have to say it is one of the most unrealistic sub movies I've ever seen. I was in the silent service and qualified in submarines. Of course a lot of what I'll write would not bother the casual viewer, but the discrepancies, details and plot were just too much to overlook.

To start with, Gene Hackman's dog coming underway with him is a load of Huey and really made me look down on this picture from the beginning. The Chief of Naval Operations himself would not or could not bring a pet on a ship with him.

They threw in a few catchy phrases and buzz words but for the most part the terminology used in the control room was made up. Even for an Ohio class boat the set for the movie's submarine was entirely too spacious. The "crawl spaces" the XO used to sneak into the control room was ludicrous. Submarines do not have anything like that. They are tightly packed with equipment and machinery and simply do not have that kind of space.

I still don't understand how the reactor was scrammed and lost propulsion from the torpedo that hit in the stern and caused all that flooding. If anything was damaged that badly, it's not getting fixed at sea. This isn't Star Trek.

The radio scenario was absolute rubbish as well. There are so many redundant comms systems on board and inside the radio shack, no way would one receiver getting fried completely isolate the ship from command authority. The EAMs might have looked good on the screen but the real deal and Sealed Authentication System is so much more complicated, it's not even funny. There is literally dozens of yellow pages thick manuals covering nuclear command and control systems, and without going into classified details, I cannot believe something like this could ever happen on board a US submarine.

There is no way people would be aiming guns around like they were in the movie either. On a real submarine which is packed with 3000 pound hydraulics and high pressure air systems, 1 bullet could kill everyone in a compartment in which it was discharged. The beginning of the movie with the fire in the galley was a load too. Fires are the biggest threat to ships safety and if they had a fire in real life, the CO would immediately surface the ship to fight it. A fire in such an enclosed space, would make so much smoke, within minutes you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, and the ship would have to emergency ventilate. Let alone the nonchalant way they dealt with that one guy dying. And of course no real submarine CO would run a drill 2 minutes after securing from a real fire. If someone was killed in a casualty, the CO would be sweating bullets.

Tony Soprano making that fat dude drop and do push ups on the bus. Talk about unprofessional. People have an unrealistic view of military discipline. That may happen in boot camp but not in the real fleet. Also that COB was unbelievably fat. No he wouldn't fit on a submarine and they don't even let people that big in the military.

Also, these SSBN's are on tightly regimented patrol cycles, with 2 crews. There are always some on patrol in alert status. The XO and weps wouldn't get paged to get underway. If they were on their off-crew period, the other crew, blue or gold would have the ship and it would already be at sea. If something goes down, you need subs ready to launch already, you may not have the luxury of even the time it took the Alabama to get underway.

The entire crew wears puppy suits, underway, officers included. Also you don't salute underway. If the captain walks by you acknowledge him but don't salute. The movie really made enlisted people look dumb imo. They are the experts on the ship's systems. And officers usually are the ones asking the dumb questions. The fight in the crew's mess over the silver surfer was a huge stretch. They give psych tests and such to submariners, one of the main goals to weed out people who can't handle stress and are hot heads. Not to say people wouldn't argue but if they were throwing punches, they'd have both been written up and in deep ****.

And the last thing was the ending. If anything remotely happened like this in real life, you can bet the Commanding Officer who held a loaded gun to an innocents head would be court marshaled and sent to prison. Not just allowed to quietly retire. Also no CO has the pull to just get their XO a command. Less than half of XOs even make the cut and get command. You have to be the creme de la creme to get command of a nuclear submarine and follow a strict career outline.

It was an enjoyable movie. But I've read some of the threads about, who's side would you be on, Hackman's or Washington's, and really the whole scenario is just beyond anything that is remotely reasonable!

This movie was the "Deep Impact" of sub flicks. Might as well have said Alabama was going to drill through the bottom of the ocean floor and disturb the earth's core to cause a magnetic flux that would stop the Russian missiles from launching. LOL Bottom line, its a decent flick, but don't think it is even close to accurate or realistic.
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intelligent, intense, well-acted
rmsmythe9 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Crimson Tide possesses one of the most intense moments in film: two great actors eye-to-eye, portraying characters absolutely certain of their actions, absolutely convinced that the other's course will lead to disaster. A submarine commander (Hackman) and his second-in-command (Washington) are both shouting at the same time, each ordering the next ranking officer (Dzundza) to arrest the other. Washington believes, with good reason that Hackman is unfit to command because he is disregarding naval procedures. Hackman believes, with good reason, that Washington is disobeying an order and instigating a mutiny. A possible nuclear exchange and the deaths of billions hang in the balance. Dzundza knows that he must make the correct decision, regardless of his like or dislike of each of his superiors.

There are traditional incidents that arise in submarine stories: fires, floods, sinking to the bottom, torpedoes, loss of communication. (After all, what more can you do in such a small set?) Crimson Tide has its share, but does them well: you won't be bored just because you have seen subs in the same situation before. The movie's major conflict arises over a very tense, crucially significant incident, a believable situation that could arise and, unresolved, lead to catastrophe for more than just the boat.

Hackman is always excellent portraying a character with depth. As the captain he can command respect and obedience with a growl, a steely look, an angry shout, or a wicked joke. In contrast, Washington's calm, strong, logical intensity is the immovable rock to Hackman's irresistible force. When his eyes bore into you (as in remember Glory and Philadelphia?) you feel his sincerity and strength in your bones.

Crimson Tide has genuine, believable characters, edge-of-your-seat tension, and crackling, intense interchanges between two of my favorite actors. I recommend it as a thinking person's submarine movie.
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One Of The Best Submarine Movies...
underfire3511 February 2004
As CRIMSON TIDE opens we visit various crew members of the USS Alabama as they bid farewell to their loved ones. For one man, Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington), it will be his first time as second in command of a nuclear submarine. Capt. Frank Ramesy (Gene Hackman) is in charge and is not shy about letting everyone know. He is a seasoned veteran, as juxtaposed with the young idealistic Hunter. The early scenes do much to set up the main conflict of the film. For example when members of the crew discuss Carl Von Clausewitz, and his 1832 work Vom Kriege ("On War"), the intellectual showdown occurs between Ramesy and Hunter. This scene not only heightens the tension, but also reveals the different philosophies of these two men, what they believe in, why they are there. This short scene goes a long way to setting up why each of these characters are so unbending when the crisis presents itself.

The Crisis: The ship has been damaged and the EAM contact that has been received is disjointed. The Russian force (who is never very carefully explained) is fueling rockets for use against the US. That's all they know. The captain wants to surface and fire, Hunter thinks he's wrong. Factions form, but the film does a good job presenting a good argument for both desicions (although you get the sense that the film makers lean towards the "dove" side rather than the "hawks"). As tensions mount, there are various shifts in power and the crew stands divided. Every member of the crew watching as the minutes tick by, closer and closer to the final moment of truth...

Hackman is at the top of his form here as the relentlessly tough Ramesy. When given a good script with room to work, there is few better at creating a solid performance. The looks he gives, the way he uses his eyes, his speech patterns, simply wonderful to watch. Washington is just as good as Hunter, and the showdown between these two men, near the end, sends sparks flying off the screen. The rest of the cast is filled out with strong actors: Matt Craven, George Dzundza, (pre LOTR's) Viggo Mortensen, and (pre 'Sopranos') James Gandolfini.

As is well known, the script received various rewrites from Robert Towne (the Clausewitz scene), Steve Zaillian, and Quentin Tarantino (the Silver Surfer references, the scene where the crew chimes in about other submarine movies). All these different contributions blends fairly well together. The story is tough and direct, and touches on points that heighten the tension. The photography, by Dariusz Wolski (DARK CITY, THE CROW), is tight and atmospheric; Hans Zimmer's score pounding and reflective. The VIP vote, however, goes to Tony Scott, who proves himself with this film. He knows when to hold shots and doesn't rush the action (as he did with TOP GUN); he paces the film well and let's his actors work for him. CRIMSON TIDE is an entertaining and challenging film that, along with films like THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and DAS BOOT, may set the high water mark (forgive the pun) for the genre. 9/10.
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Very well made military drama
mstomaso28 May 2005
The suspense is relentless in this believable, tense and superbly acted war drama. One of the best modern war movies I have seen, Crimson Tide is a story about strained loyalty, respect, command, discipline, power, and military practice. Hackman and Washington are perfectly cast as an older battle-hardened nuclear submarine captain and his younger, less experienced but highly educated executive officer, caught in a crisis of potentially world-threatening proportions. Pursued by an enemy submarine, the USS Alabama has nuclear warheads aimed and ready to fire as a pre-emptive strike against a Russian rebel commanding his own nuclear arsenal. The Alabama is commanded to launch, and begins preparations, but the enemy sub attacks, knocking out all communications just as a second command is being received. The nature of that second command and what to do about then becomes the key problem that the Captain and XO have to deal with. Suffice to say, they do not agree on how to proceed, and the remainder of the film is a struggle between the two men and those who support each, in a crippled but still lethal sub, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

What's is amazing about Michael Schiffer's story is its plausibility. The basic scenario upon which the script is based could happen. The cast - all of them - are spectacular, and the directing is masterful. Although some of the behavior of the men aboard the Alabama seems improbable at times, given the military realities of chain of command and discipline, the sheer performance power of this film's cast and production team make it all seem very real and extremely compelling. the characters are HUGE, complex, and real. More than just a cautionary tale, this is a very human drama about who people become under extreme conditions, and how they work out problems to reach solutions, or fail to do so. If that final sentence sounds cryptic, then let it entice you to see the film so you can figure out what I mean for yourself.
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Tension and suspense achieved
Agent101 June 2002
This is the type of movie Tony Scott should have stuck to creating. While most Jerry Bruckheimer films prove to be bad, modern interpretations of old school martial arts movies, this was one of the better films Bruckheimer ever produced. While the story was completely plot-driven and the performances a little over the top, the rivalry between Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman made this film a cut above the rest of the trash Bruckheimer tends to produce. While simple and direct, it proves to be effective in the annals of storytelling, never overindulging the viewer.
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Wow! What an adrenaline rush!
doofy513 September 2000
Crimson Tide is awesome in the way it creates intensity and non-stop adrenaline rushes using scenes full of action, and scenes that aren't. The torpedo attack with the Russian sub was so fast-paced and packed with energy that it makes you bounce in your seat. Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington gave awesome performances, and their growing tension towards each other is enough to keep the excitement at a consistent high through the last half of the film. I don't appreciate how Hackman's character is regarded by most moviegoers as a mad man. He is just simply a seasoned, tough-as-nails military officer who must assume that the US is in danger, and he must stick by the orders that require him to go to drastic measures to protect us. The director did a good job at raising the tension, even though the ending was very predictable. The message at the very start of the film set the perfect tone. The entire film is in a way scary by making us wonder if what would happen in a situation like this, and how could the military establish proper operating procedures for it. However, the message at the end of the film re-establishes some hope. 9/10, and I love the creative title.
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Red Alert, Red Alert, Red Alert, Red Alert....
tfrizzell10 July 2004
Tense little action thriller on par with "The Hunt for Red October" has a nuclear submarine commander (Gene Hackman) and his new second-in-command (Denzel Washington) getting in a chess match of words and wits ala "Mutiny on the Bounty". Russian rebels may be about to launch nuclear missiles at any moment. Commands come through for Hackman to detonate the weapons from their ship, but then another message after that one which is incomplete splits the entire crew. Hackman thinks it is time to take control with aggression while Washington believes that this is way too important without knowing everything there is to know. A wide range of characters on the submarine (which includes Viggo Mortensen, Steve Zahn, James Gandolfini, Rick Schroeder, George Dzundza) must decide which of the all-world performers they are going to side with. The screenplay is mediocre really, but Hackman and Washington know how to overcome that and director Tony Scott keeps the pulse of his audience in high over-drive. Definitely an acceptable piece from the genre. 4 stars out of 5.
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SmileysWorld29 January 2006
I love this film for it's intensity,particularly the intense relationship of the characters portrayed by Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington.They are two men at odds in the worst of situations;the possibility of war.It all involves an incomplete transmission.It could mean war,it could mean nothing at all.What do you do?You could strike your enemy before he strikes you,but would the strike be uncalled for? It's the not knowing that creates the intensity.Hackman and Washington are excellent actors,which goes without saying since they are both Oscar winners,and they play off of each other extremely well in this film. This fact alone makes it a must see,but the film's content is equally as impressive.
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Good action/drama
daryl_s10 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I find it interesting watching movies today that are realistically not that old, but due to the way the world stage has changed today, could never really be made in their current form.

Crimson Tide is an action/drama movie centering around the events on an American nuclear submarine during a fictional coup in the old Soviet Union where a rebel faction gains control of a Soviet nuclear base.

The main conflict in the story is between the Captain (Gene Hackman) and the Executive Officer (Denzel Washington), who both represent two very different Naval Officer types. Hackman is the old Cold Warrior (don't think about the order, your job is to just do it) and Washington is the "new breed" (educated and taught to think about the actions they are asked to undertake). Orders are received and both respond very differently to the same order.

Overall, the story flows well and the drama is gripping. Technical flaws abound (as is the case with most of these sort of stories), but nothing that really detracts from the story (although, it does leave you wondering if a situation like this would be just hope there is procedure in place somewhere to stop it!)
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1.45 hours training in submarine command language.
fikamugg15 August 2011
Denzel and Gene are the perfect choices for the leads. The score is simply amazing and deserves the Oscar. But anyway during the after texts i felt relief. 1.45 h of submarine command language can take its toll and be pretty indigestible.

The only thing that prevents me from putting a solid 8 out of 10 for this effort from Tony Scott are the totally unnecessary racial remarks made by Hackmans character captain Ramsey at the end of the movie. The Lipizzaner dialog could easily have been replaced with something else. It was very irritating and ridiculous simply because if Ramsey had preferences in skin color, he wouldn't have chosen a black man as an X.O. in the first place, right?

The served purpose was of course to help the viewer to take sides in the conflict but the audience had already done that. The audience had already understood that Ramsey associated Hunter with Harvard and military school theory and that he thought of him as a softy. The moment Hunter takes control of the conn, the sympathies lies with him.

Ramsey with his happy trigger-finger and "shoot first ask questions later" attitude was the stereotype perhaps needed to push some moral points about the problems with blind obedience and the ever recurring need of critical thought (especially amongst men in control of nukes). The audience got it, but to make sure the viewers didn't have any sympathies for the old commie-hater he must be throwing some racial epithets too. The choice in making characters over explicitly bad is quite common in Hollywood though, but more often than not the drama itself suffers from this practice. Characters made more shallow and one-dimensional, who wants that except the studio bosses? If they dumb it down and keep it within the stereotypes maybe they think it's easier to go break even, who knows? But in the same way as the US military can be saved from personnel like Ramsey maybe a well educated middle class one day can save the world from risk reducing studio bosses by demanding a dismantling of the stereotypes we all cherished and consumed for too long.
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Good, but...
Ricardo_Aparicio24 August 2003
Enjoyable, good tension, good dilemma, good cast. But:

You have a movie like this where either Washington's or Hackman's character side could be right about their course of action. The aim of the movie, ostensibly, is to present both sides and let the viewer figure out which is the correct course.

But you can't possibly side with Hackman, can you?

After all, his character goes nuts when everything starts happening. His character is possibly racist. And his character is prepared to launch nukes. Washington's character is, quite nobly, none of those things.

Ho hum. Hollywood audience manipulation at its finest.

Would it kill these writers and producers to present a dilemma movie in an intelligent fashion for once? I'd like to struggle with "who's right and who's wrong?" just once in my moviegoing life.
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Denzel Washinton's best movie, period
shortround839110 April 2009
"Crimson Tide" is one of my favorites and to me is the best submarine movie ever made. And I don't understand why people say the "The Hunt for Red October" is THE submarine film. Because, to me THFRO was very long and moved at a snail's pace, and also the murky underwater action scenes were hard to look at because you could hardly see what was going on.

However, "Crimson Tide" is an improvement in my opinion. It's over 2 hours long, but its pace moves by so fast that you're not gonna realize it. But if you're looking for tons of explosions and gunfire, then this ain't your kind of movie, it happens to be more suspense-oriented. Otherwise, you can just check out "Die Hard", "Terminator" or "Aliens", for the action-packed extravaganza that most people want. But I guess the scene in which the subs face off and each are firing the torpedoes at each other could be considered action. And that scene in probably the best part of the entire movie since there is no way anyone could resist the suspense and especially when the sub is sinking and the water pressure is rising and it could compress at any second.

Without going on and on too much I'll just give the basic premise of the movie so you won't get too confused. It's been a couple years after the Soviet Union collapsed and now a radical leader and his followers are trying to takeover the Russian government and is threatening to launch nuclear missiles into both the United States and Russia itself if they interfere with him. And the USA sends a submarine with nuclear missiles out to the Pacific Ocean in case the event of when the Russian missiles are launched and they could instantly counter-attack. But the two commanding officers clash on whether or not the missiles should be fired since they are debating if Russia is attacking or not. But since they are so far down in sea level, they can't communicate to get their orders. At first, it may seem uninteresting, but you'll realize how much suspense and tension is in here when you see it.

As for the acting, well what can I say? Denzel Washington has gotta be the greatest method actor in Hollywood right now and "Crimson Tide" is a prime example. So far in his career, he already won an Oscar for "Glory" and "Training Day" in which he gave two outstanding performances that will forever be remembered in Hollywood. But his work in "Crimson Tide" is, and I dare say, tops both of his Oscar-winning performances. He plays the lead role as Lt. Commander Ron Hunter, who is objecting his Captain's orders to attack Russia since it would cause a complete nuclear holocaust with billions of deaths involved.

Gene Hackman, who is another Hollywood favorite, is Captain Frank Ramsey, the crazy old guy who will stop at nothing to ensure that World War III between the USA and Russia happens. His character even preferred to have a missile drill happening when the sub had a fire and its safety was endangered, and as a result an officer lost his life.

Hackman's character represents the way the USA was before in a time of war, and they seeked anything to get involved in that war so other countries would fear them. Washington's character symbolizes what the USA is like during the 1990's and they would try to stay as neutral as possible. Also, the scene when Denzel and Gene are arguing and shouting over each other about the nukes and before the mutiny happens has gotta be one of the greatest acted scenes ever. And this basically provides the tension that makes "Crimson Tide" what it is as a film. And the bulk of the movie, the question "Will they launch or not?" goes on. Just watch it and found out.

Also, the dialogue is among the best I've ever heard, and heck, I'll say that it even challenges "Pulp Fiction" as having some of the best lines ever. What's interesting is that Quentin Tarantino provided some of it in here and that's clearly evident. The Silver Surfer reference and the submarine movie trivia are the real punch-ups here. My favorite line from this is "You don't put on a condom unless you're gonna f**k!".

"Crimson Tide" is an excellent thriller movie that stands out because of the suspense, the tension, the acting and the punchy dialogue. Do yourself a favor and forget "The Hunt for Red October"! "Crimson Tide" will blow you away!
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Jon Monsarrat review: intelligent and thrilling
johnnymonsarrat30 March 2002
Although billed as a film about a deep issue (how much control submarine commanders should have over their nuclear weapons), Crimson Tide is really a straight action flick in my opinion. However, it is intelligent and definitely a cut above the action/thriller stereotype.

Superbly acted by the best -- never fail actors Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman -- they keep the tension at an eerily high peak throughout the film.

Who should see this film:

-- action movie buffs

-- borderline action lovers who won't build false expectations that there's a lot of deep issues and drama going on here

-- Arty types who are refined enough to appreciate the acting, sets, and dialogue even if they don't normally like action films

Suspense plays a large role in the film, so once you've seen it you know what's coming and may not wish to see it again someday. Only this limits it to getting a 7 out of 10 in my book.
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A Post Cold-War Thriller
JamesHitchcock7 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
How does one make a Cold War thriller now that the Cold War is over? One way of doing this would be simply to make the film as a historical period piece, and this was the solution adopted in another submarine drama, the more recent "K-19 The Widowmaker". Political thrillers however, are at their most effective when they confront us with a scenario that could happen today, or in the near future, and lose some of their impact when they deal with something that might have happened- but didn't- in the past. "The Crimson Tide" deals essentially with something that might have happened in the sixties or seventies, but in order to maintain its immediacy it is set in the nineties, with a group of nationalist Russian rebels playing the part that the Soviet government might have played in an earlier film. A similar device was used in "Air Force One", another political thriller from the mid-nineties.

The action mostly takes place on board an American nuclear submarine, the USS Alabama, against the background of a revolt in the Russian Far East against the Russian Government. The rebels have seized control of the Vladivostok naval base and are threatening to launch nuclear missiles against America should government forces attempt to retake the area. The American Government are considering launching a pre-emptive strike against the rebels, and the crew of the Alabama await their orders.

At the heart of the drama on board the Alabama are two very different officers, the submarine's aggressive commander, Captain Ramsey, and his more cautious, liberal second-in-command, Lieutenant-Commander Hunter. After an order is received to launch a strike against the rebels, the ship is attacked by a Russian submarine. A second message starts to come in, but because communication is lost during the engagement, it is incomplete. Hunter believes that the second message may be a recall of the earlier order to launch missiles, and refuses to concur with Ramsey's command to launch. When Ramsey orders the crew to proceed without Hunter's concurrence, Hunter attempts to take over command of the ship in a plot development reminiscent of "The Caine Mutiny".

Both Ramsey and Hunter are convinced that they are in the right. Ramsey fears that any delay in launching will leave America vulnerable to a first strike by the rebels. Hunter fears that launching the ship's missiles without waiting for clarification of the second message will lead to full-scale nuclear war. There is, however, little doubt that the film's sympathies lie with Hunter. Technically, he may have been in breach of naval regulations in refusing, on the basis of an ambiguous message which lacked the vital confirmation codes, to confirm his captain's order, but it would be a strange film which made a character who wants to initiate a nuclear exchange more sympathetic than a character who wishes to prevent one.

A submarine is a hermetic and claustrophobic environment, and makes an excellent setting for a thriller. Director Tony Scott develops the tension very well, with some very effective scenes, especially the duel between the Alabama and the Russian sub and the scenes where Ramsey and Hunter and their respective supporters among the crew battle one another for control of the ship. We are never allowed to forget that very big issues- perhaps nothing less than the future of the world itself- are at stake. Both Gene Hackman as Ramsey and Denzel Washington as Hunter play their parts very well, bringing out the contrasting characters of the two men. I would agree with the reviewer who complained that the ending, with its implausible reconciliation between Ramsey and Hunter, was unconvincing, but that apart I found this a highly effective, edge-of-your-seat action thriller. 7/10
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Mister-S20 September 2003
What an appalling film. Don't get me wrong, Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington are good actors, but aside from a few interesting set pieces, the film is mostly taken up with hysterical submariners shouting, crying, sweating and generally freaking out when anything goes wrong.

Take that with simplistic asides to make sure the audience still understand what's going on (the scene where Denzel Washington explains to a radio repairman how he must be like Scotty in Star Trek is nothing more than a joke) and you have a dumbed down thriller not worthy of the acting.

Let us just hope that the real nuclear US Navy is not in the hands of such a script!
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Terrible Movie
kenboard2208 April 2007
As a former submariner, this was one of the worst submarine movies I have ever seen. First of all, a mutiny aboard any US Naval vessel, particularly a Nuclear Powered Trident submarine in unthinkable. These men are the best of the best and are dedicated to their mission. The responsibility they carry is awesome and they take it very seriously all the way from the Captain to the most junior crew member. I could never see a crew of any ship split their alliance between the Captain and the Executive Officer. An Executive Officer who acted as the Character played by Denzel Washington did would be relieved of his duties and Court Martialed, then drummed from the Navy. It is no surprise the Navy refused to send a technical adviser to help in making this film. Lastly, if any member of a submarine crew made the amount of noise made underway on this vessel they would be severely reprimanded. Submariners learn early in their career to be as quiet as possible to avoid detection. They don't slam doors and even speak quietly and wear soft soled shoes when underway. I was amazed at how loud they portrayed the crew while underway. Loud music would never be tolerated. I know portraying submarine life in reality would not sell movie tickets, but this is over the top to the point of being ridiculous. I would not recommend this movie to anyone.
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Pure Hollywood nonsense
a_digiacomo3 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As someone who once tried to join the USN as an BUPERS(bureau of Personnel) officer, and who grew up with sub service officers, I anticipated this film eagerly. When I actually saw it, I was dumbfounded. This is typical Hollywood nonsense in that nothing is even minutely plausible. Hackman is CORRECT in his actions and attitudes--in the REAL world, there are BACK UP RADIOS, and MORE checks and balances--Hackman would have activated the back ups, got confirmations, and then did his DUTY. Denzel is of course "Mr. God Like Hero" to a generation fed on Hollywood garbage film making--of course he had to be the moral and action hero--baloney! In the Navy, he would have been hanged for mutiny! You DO NOT depose your Captain unless the Captain is suicidal or homicidal! Throwing around guns aboard a sealed environment is also WRONG HEADED WRITING--nope, just isn't done for obvious reasons like destroying the hull, releasing hydraulic units that could sink the boat to crush depths, ETC. Nope, I expected tense realistic drama and got pure garbage made to cater to politically liberal, mush brained thrill hungry viewers who are so uneducated(willingly so--and I am a college professor and know this as fact) as to believe anything Hollywood feeds them...
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An excellent fast moving thought-provoking film
vad-21 March 1999
There have been few war-type films (Saving Private Ryan was another) which have been so thought-provoking. The acting and action was excellent as could be expected from such a cast so my comments are really centred on the story line and its presentation. Set in the scenario of the post-cold war Russia, which is still with us, the basic confrontation which faces every naval commander of a nuclear submarine was brought to stark reality in this film. Who has the final say when it comes to pushing the button? Dependence on technology which is not infallible highlights the weakness of humans who become its slaves rather its masters. Ultimately the stark choice between life and death, between fiction and reality can become blurred when cut off from the world inside a deep sea submarine. How many times has this happened one can only wonder. Since we are all here it can be assummed that the CExcO portrayed by Denzel Washington always won or the type of persons portrayed by Hackman do not exist. Good triumphed over evil.

I wonder what happened to the men who mutineered, they seem to have been forgiven, for an offence still punishable by death, at least in the British navy. It's easy to criticise many technical mistakes in the film and some of the improbabilities but the main points were made and shown well. This film rates just as high as Red October, which was of a similar theme but also excellent. I wonder if Burt Lancaster ever sees these films? In its day Run Silent Run Deep had a lot to recommend it, but that is for another Comment at another time when I see it again
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A great film for...adolescent boys
boberck26 November 2000
Despite great acting, I didn't like this film very much because it is so cartoonish and predictable. We've seen it all before and we see it all coming: a cautious Washington pitted against the trigger-happy Hackman. The characters mouth overly dramatic platitudes. Technical and military accuracy is discarded in favor of ridiculous plot devices. Lots of torpedos and spraying water offer visual excitement. Lots of purple lighting sets the mood. At least it isn't as bad bad as any of the madman-with-nuclear-bomb-threatens-to-blow-up-the-city movies. I just wish they had put more substance into this action movie.
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Plot makes no sense
cu_ee31 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers

If the Americans (and Russians) know exactly where the rebel-controlled missiles are, why can't they be disabled with conventional weapons by almost any country? Why can't somebody (anybody!) fly some planes over the depot and drop some bombs? Isn't a nuclear attack from an American submarine just about the worst, stupidest, most unbelievable way to solve the problem?

It's so stupid that the first two times I saw this movie I literally didn't understand the plot at all. Why were we trying to start a nuclear holocaust just because the rebels were gassing up some missiles?? My dad had to explain to me that the sub was actually supposed to disable the enemy missiles. Uh huh. 5/10 because I enjoyed the acting.
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A major disappointment
Gatorman910 July 2003
As a former ballistic missile submariner I can tell you that this movie bears about as much relation to anything faintly resembling reality as Happy Gilmore does to professional golf - but at least the latter film was pretty funny in an Adam Sandler kind of way. Crimson Tide lacks any sort of comparable redeeming virtue, but is purely an adolescent fantasy best suited for those who have never considered actually thinking in the least about the subject matter of what they watch. This was a big disappointment for myself and other submariners, who out of some necessity HAVE actually thought about the issues it poses - after all, we were the ones who might have actually had to "push the button" (actually, it was a trigger in a pistol grip) in the middle of the night one night - and were left feeling very much let down by the film's complete failure to deal with them in a mature, adult, intelligent dramatic context. This is especially true given the tremendous potential of the leading players, Gene Hackman as the captain and Denzel Washington as the executive officer (always abbreviated in the Navy as "X.O." - who on earth who knew Thing One about the Navy - any part of the Navy - would ever refer to him as the "ex-o"?) and the more thoughtful way the plot begins to develop. But eventually it deteriorates into a far-fetched underwater version of a 1950's 'B'-grade western shoot-'em-up totally unworthy of its high-powered acting talent. Hoping for something along the lines of Seven Days in May or The Bedford Incident, or even Dr. Strangelove, we instead got something utterly vacuous.

As one submariner I know recently put it:

"When we went to see the movie in the theater, it was all I could do to keep from walking out. The premise depicted in the movie was so utterly ridiculous! In my view, there were two subliminal messages being conveyed. The first, that our deterrent system as it was in those days, had too many weaknesses to be reliable. The idea that those in the command structure would circumvent the safety controls and the procedures in place based solely on a some idealistic difference of opinion with the CO was completely foreign to me. Secondly, the racial overtones suggested in this movie were something I never witnessed during my 20 year career. It would be very naive of me to say those things didn't exist in other communities within the Navy, or in the other services. However, the crews of the 4 submarines I served in were all way above that kind of nonsense. The movie in question here didn't offer a true vision of reality but may have been a good Hollywood story. The problem was and is that the general public seems to accept these inaccurate depictions as the gospel truth."

If you feel you must see this film, I suggest the VHS version in preference to the DVD, because it should rent for less and thus you will waste less money.
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What Plot?
straightjket27 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If you follow the plot this movie is not worth watching. It is OK for mindless entertainment. The Captain seems like a military man The XO seems non military. How did this guy get to this position with so much contempt for authority? You receive confirmed orders to launch missiles. You lose radio contact at 550 feet depth. You have a sub trying to blow you up. You cannot launch until 150 feet depth. Why not follow orders and avoid the attack submarine if you are going to be back in radio range well before launch depth? The COB does not arrest the XO when instructed by the Captain however he is more than willing to arrest the Captain when instructed by the XO? This movie seems to have been written by someone who has utter contempt and/or lack of understanding of our military. Give me a break The Captain was right for most of the movie. Then to end this thing with you were both right and both wrong?? The Captain recommends the XO get his own boat? I don't get this movie at all.
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Preposterous and absurd
jmorrison-223 July 2002
This movie was absolutely ridiculous and preposterous. Maybe part of the problem is I am former military, but this made me stop about 1/4 of the way through, and say "What the hell are they doing?"

I will say this was beautifully filmed, the cinematography was superb, and the tight quarters and claustrophobic feeling aboard the submarine was portrayed beautifully. The action sequences, and the tension were also portrayed very well.

But the content of the story was garbage. Nothing like this would ever happen on a nuclear submarine without dire consequences. The Captain of a ship has that position for a reason. He is the Commanding Officer of that ship, and that is a powerful, and sacred thing. To simply take over command by force because you don't "agree" with how he's doing things is behavior that used to bring the penalty of death. Basically, that's all Washington's character did. Whether he thinks the right thing is being done or not, the Captain is the Captain, and you cannot pull a stunt like this because you think you can out-think him. This was not a good example of a circumstance when a forcible take-over would be permissible. This was an example of new-age "self-esteem, assertiveness-training" hogwash. With Denzel Washington smoldering and strutting right through the middle of it.

Boys will be boys! At the end, Hackman and Washington are basically slapped on the hand, given a "stern talking-to", told to "not do it again", and allowed to go on their merry way. Everybody shakes hands, and the world is a better place for it. For crying out loud.........

Filmmakers feed us garbage like this because most people honestly don't know any better. This was laughable.....
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Is this still payback for McCarthyism?
mrezyka13 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
What a load of Leftist Hollywood bilge. This movie glorifies mutiny as brave and noble if it be for pacifist principles. The fairytale ends with the pacifist character, played by Danzel Washington, actually getting promoted for his treason. What is it with these Hollywood tools? Is this still payback for McCarthyism?

If I sound cynical it's because I am fed up with movies hawking a political agenda. The military brass in this movie are portrayed as, what else? Gung-ho war mongers. Sound familiar? Ever see a movie where the CIA or any government agency is not evil? Think about it. Yet again, Crimson Tide stresses the point. The Hackman character, U-boat captain Ramsey, comes across like a raving lunatic, until the very end when, of course he comes to his senses, does a complete 360, renounces his blood lust, suggests a promotion for the treasonous Ron Hunter, and repents by retiring from the service. A guy mutinies, takes command of your boat, puts the U.S at grave risk of receiving a nuclear first-strike, and you promote him???? What hogwash!
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Good acting lifts the rather ordinary scenario
raymond-1510 March 2003
It's ages since I watched a film about a submarine and its crew. Scripts it seems haven't changed that much. The same tensions, accidents and arguments among the submariners. This time the dissention is between the Captain ( Gene Hackman) and the Lt. Commander (Denzel Washington). They have opposing ideas on the use of nuclear weaponry.

The only relief from the tension is the Captain's pet dog who seems to have a calming effect on the Captain's sudden angry outbursts. It surprised me that a dog would be allowed to go to sea in an American submarine. Surely the "No pets allowed" rule applies.

There are some great lines in the film e.g. when the Captain says "Anyone who does not agree with me must leave the sub.immediately". The closing lines of the film are unexpected and send the viewer away with a smile. There is little else to smile about in this film.

The film portrays the courage and fortitude of the submariners. We have to acknowledge they are brave men. The navy insists that the line of authority must be respected al all times. The film makers take some liberties here. Because of the possibility that the Captain's decisions could propel the globe into World War 111, the first mate has him locked up in his cabin! The change of command divides the crew- a situation I felt was rather too easily rectified.
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