First Hit: As far as submarine-based films, it was OK, but the added ground team made it better.
My dad (who died 23 years ago today) loved submarine films. His favorite was the 1958 thriller Run Silent Run Deep. He’d sit there and watch it every time it came on television (after seeing it on the big screen) and recite the dialogue with the actors. Maybe it was because he loved the ocean, or that he was in the Navy, I don’t know, but when I see submarine films, I think of him.
In this movie, a U.S. submarine is, at close range, following a Russian sub under arctic ice in the Barents Sea. Then unknowingly, another Russian sub, hiding in a carve out slice of ice, torpedoes and sinks the U.S. Sub. Then there is an explosion and the Russian sub sinks.
Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) with National Security Advisor Analyst Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini) advocates figuring out what to do and wants to send another submarine in to figure out what happened to the sub and if there are any survivors. Chief Joint Chief of Staff Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman) is opposed to this and wants to gear up to start another world war against the Russians.
Meanwhile we get a short glimpse of SEAL Lieutenant Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens) and his team practicing maneuvers.
Then when Fisk sends the USS Arkansas sub commanded by newly inaugurated Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) to find the previously sunk U.S. Sub, they also find the sunk Russian Sub.
They hear something on the Russian Sub and make a rescue of the captain and two other men. When Glass shows the Russian Captain, Sergei Andropov (Michael Nyqvist) that his Russian sub was sabotaged and sunk by someone on board, he realizes that something is going on with his country.
Sensing Russian problems, Beaman’s team parachutes into the Russian base to find the Russian President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) is being held hostage by Defence Minister Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy) who is instigating a coup.
The plan is to have Beaman’s team kidnap the Russian President and escape by getting on board Glass’s sub which will be guided into the Russian base by Andropov. All this is to prevent an all-out war between the two countries.
I thought some of the scenes in the subs were well done. I loved when the men on the con were leaning as the sub dove. I thought the attitude of the SEALs was perfect. I enjoyed the sharpshooting by the youngest member of this team. I enjoyed the grit and determination shown by Captain Glass, especially when he was challenging Andropov to help him.
There is a far amount of suspense in the film, but it does have an obviousness that we know how it will end. Thought that Donnegan’s character was over the top and don’t know if that was direction or just Oldman being over the top.
Butler was excellent as the come up from the ranks Captain of the USS Arkansas. There was a certain amount of grittiness in his approach that worked for this role. Common seemed a little out of his element in this role. He didn’t quite exemplify a Rear Admiral. Oldman's character was unprofessional, for the position, in the ranting he showed. Nyqvist was excellent as the closed mouth long time professional sailor. Diachenko was OK as the Russian President. He didn’t quite come off as being strong. Gorevoy was a poor choice as someone to pull off a coup. His character felt fearful and weak most of the time. Stephens was great and exemplified a Navy SEAL leader, rough, demanding and with a heart underneath. Cardellini was good as a NSA Senior Analyst. Arne Schmidt and Jamie Moss wrote a good script. Donovan Marsh did a good job of directing this film. Some of the scenes in the sub were fantastic as were some of the on-land scenes. However, really thought that Oldman’s role was a big downfall as was the war room scene with the US President.
Overall: An OK thriller but it will not go down as an all-time great submarine-based film.