HUNTER KILLER, US, 2018. Starring Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common, Linda Cardelini, Michael Niqvist, Toby Stephens, Caroline Goodall. Directed by Donovan Marsh. 122 minutes. Rated MA (Strong violence).
You could hardly have a more direct and blunter title than Hunter Killer. Not exactly subtle. And some of the action throughout the film is not so subtle.
However, it does become more complex in its perspectives, in its military perspectives, in its political perspectives, especially in the confrontation between Russia and the US.
For those who like submarine films, here is another in the tradition of The Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, K-19, the Widowmaker. And for those enjoyed these films, this one will be enjoyable, quite satisfying.
Hunter Killer is actually the technical name for submarines which go into action. One is under the water and under the ice in the Barents Sea when it becomes involved with, pursued by, threatened with torpedoes by, Russian submarines. And then the Russian submarine is destroyed – but not by the Americans.
and his advisor, Jayne Nicquist (Linda Cardellini). They have a solution to a possible international crisis, even threat of nuclear war. They have a contact, a submarine commander who did not go through the training at Annapolis but learned on the job. He is Joe Glass, played by Gerard Butler, who has already done quite an amount of action-saving in Olympus Has Fallen, London Has Fallen (and another Fallen action drama to follow). (And, once again, Gerard Butler shows what an effective Jack Reacher he might have been.)
Not everything is as clear-cut in the Pentagon as we might have hoped. The main admiral is played by Gary Oldman, prone to be hawkish. And there is a sequence with Madam President (Caroline Goodall) very reminiscent of and looking like Hillary Clinton (maybe the film was in production before her unanticipated presidential defeat.)
Plenty of complications ensue, the discovery that the destruction of the Russian submarine was not the work of the Americans, that something strange is going on at the Russian port, including the Russian President (the tall dark and handsome actor might make Vladimir Putin more than envious!), his Foreign Minister, a coup.
Also in the act are a group of super troopers who are flown in from Turjikistan, parachuting into Russia, able to set up cameras and audio to give the Pentagon info on what is going on and helping them to make decisions. In the meantime, Joe Glass, with criticisms from his second in charge, rescues some Russians from their doomed submarine – which leads to a scenario for sailing through mine-charged depths, the rescue squad in action, helping the Russian President, avoiding an international confrontation.
So, entertaining submarine action and Russian- American conflicts – and the niggling thought throughout as the audience might wonder as they watch this hypothesis and scenario, what might actually be happening in the real world right now.
Roadshow Released November 1st
Peter Malone MSC is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.