Until you have been torpedoed or depth charged, thereís no conception for what happens inside a submarine. Thankfully, cinema has offered simulated glimpses. Such a teeth rattling effect was embodied by Das Boot, The Hunt for Red October and U-571. As of 2018, Hunter Killer joins the elite. Itís the type of well-crafted genre movie almost nobody wants to make anymore. There are exceptions as director Donovan Marsh conducts parallel pawns and knights of fury. He knows precisely when to hit us but more importantly why. He keenly observes the emotional stakes so when Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman make life or death decisions, we feel the weight.
In the Cold War spirit, America loses a submarine in Russian waters. So they dispatch Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) to investigate. Meanwhile, Russian President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) ends up overthrown by his corrupt defence minister Dmitri Durov (Michael Gor). Holding his commander in chief hostage, the latter initiates a plan which spells Armageddon. The purpose? Placing blame squarely on the shoulders of the United States.
Crucially, Michael J. Duthieís editing links all the finer details for seamless appraisal. I was most impressed at how he balanced plot intricacies with human reactions. Needless to say, Butler helped tremendously in this area. The actorís gift for adding humour and punch to dialogue proves rather endearing. Itís like watching your best mate up there on the big screen.
Meanwhile, the role of Charles Donnegan doesnít call for Gary Oldman to deviate from the rigid infrastructure of his two dimensional character. Compared to say his slithery senator ripping through Rod Lurieís The Contender, he performs in a smart suit, miles away from the action.
Sadly, Hunter Killer falls flat as a soundtrack experience. Why? Composer Trevor Morris failed to contribute a theme which would crystallize the filmís identity. By contrast, Klaus Doldinger humbled us with an indelible sendoff for Das Boot.
(Released by Summit Entertainment and rated "R" by MPAA.)