Yaaaay, Gerard Butler in an action movie! You know what that means. Dumb, stupid, but totally awesome fun!
The story looks like it’s about some rogue Russian terrorist/military guys who kidnap the Russian President and have amassed an enormous fleet intent on starting World War 3, and it’s up to a single American submarine and some other Marines to stop them.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Gerard Butler (DEN OF THIEVES , GEOSTORM , LONDON  and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN , HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON  and 2 , and upcoming films ALL-STAR WEEKEND  and NAYA LEGEND OF THE GOLDEN DOLPHIN ), Gary Oldman (DARKEST HOUR , CRIMINAL , Harry Potter AZKABAN , GOBLET , PHOENIX , and DEATHLY HALLOWS 2 , and upcoming films MARY  and THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW ), Common (THE HATE U GIVE , JOHN WICK 2 , BARBERSHOP 3 , TERMINATOR SALVATION , and upcoming films THREE SECONDS  and THE KITCHEN ), and Linda Cardellini (A SIMPLE FAVOR , THE FOUNDER , AVENGERS: ULTRON , SCOOBY-DOO  and MONSTERS UNLEASHED , and upcoming films GREEN BOOK  and THE CURSE OF LA LLORNA ).
In support, we have Michael Trucco (BYE BYE MAN ), Ryan McPartlin (CHUCK [2007 – 2012] and 1 episode of FULLER HOUSE [2016 – ongoing]), Michael Nyqvist (JOHN WICK , M:I – GHOST PROTOCOL , and The Girl WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO , WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE , and WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST , and upcoming films KURSK  and RADEGUND ), Will Attonborough (WHERE HANDS TOUCH , DUNKIRK , and DENIAL ), and Toby Stephens (13 HOURS ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Donovan Marsh, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Co-writing the screenplay, we have Arne Schmidt (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of) and Jamie Moss (GHOST IN THE SHELL ). Composing the score is Trevor Morris, known for LONDON and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, and BRICK MANSIONS (2015). The cinematographer is Tom Marais, known for stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of. Finally, the editor is Michael J. Duthie, known for MECHANIC 2 (2016), and the upcoming SILENT LIFE (2019).
I honestly have no idea what this movie is about, but it looks like over-the-top fun. I rather enjoy the look of this movie and I can’t wait. Do I think it’s going to be good? No, but it doesn’t have to be. I just want some cinematic junk food.
This is my honest opinion of: HUNTER KILLER
An American submarine, the USS Tampa Bay, trails a Russian sub, the Konek. However, both are shot down by an unknown assailant. Captain Glass (Gerard Butler), commanding the USS Arkansas sub is tasked with finding out what happened and discovers a rogue Russian sub was responsible. America sends an four-man recon team to Russia see if the “coincidental” disappearance of the Russian President Nicolai Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) is related. Turns out, the team discovers that the Zakarin is the target of a coup by his Prime Minister of Defense, Dmitri Durov (Michael Gor), and now the recon team is tasked with rescuing Zakarin and Glass is ordered to see to their safety, but not without the help of surviving Captain from the Konek, Andropov (Michael Nyqvist).
Before I get started, and I’m only throwing this in here because I’ve always wanted to, I find it ironic that Original Films is a production company for this film… that’s based on a book. I had myself a bit of a giggle.
Anyway, I mostly enjoyed this movie. Ain’t nothing new, there’s certainly better out there, but as junk-food action flicks go, I had fun.
As per usual, Butler delivers a charming performance. I love the way Captain Glass is written. He’s that kind of character that isn’t afraid to defy his superiors’ orders for something that he knows is morally right, or knows that he has unique perspective and how to utilize the limited resources that he has on hand. Yes yes, terrible kind of Captain to have in the US armed forces of any kind, but this is an action movie and action movies will generally do away with that pesky “reality” bullshit that would prevent this from being more entertaining. In any case, he knows how to identify with Captain Andropov and how to convince him to turn against his countrymen. And he doesn’t even do it by threatening him, but rather appealing to their mutual sense of duty and love of their careers, and they face an enemy that threatens more than just their own countries, but potentially the world. He does what any great action hero should do: throw out the rule book and excel with the resources on hand.
But as much as I love Butler, it’s the shared screen time of both Trucco and McPartlin that really had me going. Yes, I am aware that both men are from some of my favorite nerdy sci-fi shows, like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and CHUCK. As they did in their respective shows, they brought a great deal of fun and charisma to their sections of the movie. In fact, it could almost be argued that everything happening on land was far more interesting than anything in the sub. This small team is doing direct recon, they’re directly in on the action, it was a joy to watch this stuff. <<<SPOILERS – highlight to reveal>>> [ Perhaps it’s because of that fandom for both BATTLESTAR and CHUCK, and the impact that their characters left in their respective shows is what got me directly invested when their characters were killed off. I might have expected one or two of the characters to live. But nope, when Trucco’s character got axed, I got mad. When McPartlin got axed, I got pissed. I wanted these rogue Russian bastards to die a glorious death. Must to my amusement, the movie delivers exactly that. I was wholly satisfied. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>
Some of the effects were pretty fun. Like then the submarine dives and everyone is leaning back in an angle. I’m sure it’s an enclosed set and the set itself is tilting ever so slightly, but it’s still really neat to look at. I don’t even believe it’s a classic tilt of the camera and the actors are leaning back in the same symmetrical angle. It looked too clean for that. Maybe I’m just easy to impress. I’m open to that being the case.
Some of the action scenes are pretty fun too. I actually really did enjoy how Andropov was helping the Arkansas navigate through the Russian mines and sound detectors. What I really liked is that there was no point in the story yet where Andropov was completely on board with helping Glass and his men, so when this scene starts, you legit have no idea if he’s going to steer them into mines, or into a wall. I really did sort of wonder if something would have happened. And when the crew is trying to go ultra quiet and fix rattling bolts? I thought all of these elements worked really well for this scene. Really stand-out stuff.
And, hey hey, this movie decided to throw in a female US President. Those are rare in films. The last one was in INDEPENDENCE DAY 2. Convince me you care… or even remembered about that. I saw the movie and I totally forgot. Not that this President does all that much and will likely be forgotten as well, but diversity is always welcomed. Why are TV female Presidents so much more memorable?
But it’s time to talk about the negatives. Something I bet many people would love to hang their thoughts on.
I have to say, while I’m not surprised to see Common as a someone who is in the military, I would never have pegged him as a high ranking, behind the scenes, kind of character and this movie reveals why. It’s downright comical how he doesn’t fit in the role of a Navy Admiral. Not that I want to stereotype or anything, but I can’t imagine many black Admirals that have a “street” accent, which Common does not hide. I wouldn’t care much if he was a grunt, bad-ass soldier doing bullet time or anything, but an Admiral in the Navy? It doesn’t work.
There are certainly details that don’t hold that much weight and feel useless to the story. When Glass discovers that the Konek was sabotaged, that feels unlikely as we literally see a torpedo strike the sub from the enemy Russian sub that Glass eventually destroys. Why did the Konek need to be destroyed from sabotage. This implies that someone on board that sub was a traitor to his captain, but this character isn’t revealed, making it pointless. The audience knew that the enemy ship destroyed the Konek, why muck up the details with… more details?
The villain is pretty weak. Literally, Durov is just some asshole who wants to wage war with America. He thinks that President Zakarin is a weak leader and… somehow that’s all the motivation he needs to start World War III. This movie has it’s derivative moments. I mean, skydiving through a lightning story clouds? Very MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (2018) of this movie. And this wasn’t even as fun. In that movie, lightning struck and it was a race to get someone’s breather back on and pull his chute before they both died. This one… damn, they don’t even get so much as static. Just a standard hard land and a nose bleed. So riveting.
Look, folks, if you went into this movie and came out hating it, I don’t think I’m going to argue. This isn’t exactly CRIMSON TIDE, and I admit that half of my enjoyment for this movie is only due to the fact that I love certain actors in here. It has its stretches of time that are boring, plot points that don’t factor into the movie very well, among other problems. If you’re looking for reasons to not like this movie, you’ll find them and likely a lot easier than I did. With that said, yes, I do like this flick. Objectively speaking, it’s not great. But for my personal tastes, it’s a fun popcorn movie and was worth the time of day. As a recommendation, only see this if you want to turn your brain off and enjoy some action. It’s fun for that alone.
My honest rating for HUNTER KILLER: a strong 3/5
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