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Rated 2.94 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A Cerebral Powerhouse
by Richard Jack Smith

I love films where we get to see two characters unrelated to each other suddenly develop cross purposes. It's a tribute to the editing process that John McTiernan's The Hunt for Red October opens in such a lively and exciting, character-driven mode.

CIA author Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) has a hunch that Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) plans to defect from Russia to the U.S. As soon as the Soviet high command get wind of this, they immediately dispatch a fleet of ships to sink Ramius' submarine, the Red October. However, this is no ordinary submersible. A caterpillar drive enables Red October to travel virtually silent. It then becomes a race to warn Ramius of the imminent danger.

Connery has a face any camera could love. He completes the experience for the audience. His Marko Ramius brings together the power of the James Bond franchise, an Alfred Hitchcock connection (Marnie) and a wise contemplation of future pastures. For what is knowledge without experimentation? He even tries out a daring manoeuvre quite early when he eliminates a potential threat to his plans.

Trusting our own instincts contributes a great deal to appreciating Baldwin's turn here. He embraces everything new by gathering information and analyzing the results with a fine set of eyes. Those eyes can penetrate fog. Connecting the dots for him involves looking ahead and finally settling on a loose coincidence. The technique certainly works.

McTiernan loves action. Predator and Die Hard are living proof. However, The Hunt for Red October navigates much more cerebral terrain, overcoming the feeling of "Hold on, I don't quite get that!" by making the seemingly impossible a credible thing. Overall, the film's achievement becomes clear with every word, movement and geographical pattern. 

(Released by Paramount and rated "PG" by MPAA.)

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