If you missed Top Gun or Rocky IV—or you just haven’t paid attention to current events over the last 60 years—there’s something you should know: Russia is always the box-office bad guy. If you don’t believe me, just ask John Wick how he feels about this guy…
Okay, so maybe it’s not Michael Nyqvist’s fault that he has a face only Mother Russia can love. But, when a modern-day villain is pulled from another movie—let alone from an enemy sub on the sea floor where one American ship was already shot down in cold blood and even colder waters—you can totally trust him, right? If you’re Gerard Butler, the answer is yes. Or, a less-confidence inspiring “I hoped.”
Before I dive too deep into the details (see what I did there?), let’s get the synopsis out of the way. If you haven’t heard, Hunter Killer is Hollywood’s latest attempt to capture the drama and tension that has become the submarine sub-genre.
After the USS Tampa Bay is torpedoed down into depths beyond anything this movie offers, Captain Joe Glass (a.k.a. Gerard Butler) is sent on a top-secret mission at the helm of the USS Arkansas. And, of course, he’s the most experienced man for the job. Except that he’s never been a captain before, and he didn’t even attend the US Naval Academy in Annapolis. Sounds like a recipe for success…
Affectionately referred to as a “wrench monkey,” Captain Glass’s little-bit-of-everything background endears him to the crew. At least until his first intercom address, where he essentially tells everyone that he can do their jobs better than they can.
Meanwhile, through a series of somewhat predictable storylines and events, an elite, four-man Navy SEAL team led by Bill Bearman (a.k.a Toby Stephens) makes its way to military HQ to discover that *gasp* this recent aggression is actually masterminded to set the stage for a coup to take control of Russia. And who’s the ring leader? You guessed it: a Cold War-clichéd Russian Minister of Defense that likes to operate by even older-school methods. And, World War III’s number one fan, apparently.
Through a combination of overly long buildup, lackluster dialogue, and a two-minute conversation featuring Nyqvist’s single line of “Fuck you,” to the captain, trust is somehow established enough to the point that an extraction mission targeting the Russian president held captive at a military base makes sense. If you’re wondering how that happened, that makes two of us.
Despite the cheesy, 1970s-esque writing and saw-it-coming-from-a-mile away ending, the overarching themes of unity and togetherness are messages audiences, me included, never get tired of watching. If you’re looking for action and a star-studded cast who delivers entertainment that makes a happy ending happen, check it out. Just don’t expect much more than that.
Was I right on the mark, or totally off base with this one? To be honest, I don’t get around to watching movies often and couldn’t really tell you why I was chosen to review Hunter Killer. Whether you agree with me or not, I’d love to hear what you have to say. Roast me in the comments below, or let my bosses hear it by leaving a comment on our Facebook page.