It’s 1984 and the Soviet Union’s flagship is on course for the USA. CIA agent Jack Ryan suspects a defection, but his superiors are unsure, leading to a tough decision as to what to do with the powerful vessel as it approaches.
While it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Crimson Tide in terms of drama and sheer nail bitingness, this is a perfectly adequate submarine movie. “According to the US and Russian governments none of what you’re about to see ever happened” the opening claims. Presumably because it’s a work of fiction.
One thing that has surprisingly become a focal point of my reviews in this series is how foreign language is dealt with. Red October goes for the interesting tactic of having the Russians speak Russian in the opening scenes, then switching to English mid scene, so we’re clearly told that English represents Russian when they are talking to each other.
The crew then adopt Russian accents, which is frustrating not just because it’s completely unnecessary when you’ve gone to the trouble of showing us that English is Russian, but also because Sean Connery can’t be bothered to attempt an accent. This leaves us in the odd situation of the entire crew speaking in Russian accents to their Scottish captain. Once they make contact with the Americans they speak Russian once again, to show the language barrier, but once it’s established Connery’s character knows some English he goes back into fluent English with a Scottish accent. Confusing.
The plot follows both sides closely, and is sympathetic to both, much like The Enemy Below, but without its humanity and reluctance to engage in conflict. The main characters, while reasonably interesting, aren’t as well rounded as other films in this series, even if it does enjoy strong supporting performances from James Earl Jones and Tim Curry.
The Hunt For Red October is a perfectly enjoyable action film from John McTiernan which interesting enough to work even if it struggles to stand out from the crowd.