Phantom (2013) Sub Movie with a Russian Point of View

Phantom

I discovered Phantom thanks to a comment on my post on U571 . Since it’s a new movie and it has been quite a while since I last saw a submarine movie and because I’m very fond of Ed Harris, I thought I’d give it a shot. While it’s maybe not among the top of the range, it was decent and had an unusual angle. This is a Cold War movie told entirely from a Russian perspective. It took some getting used to in the beginning that Ed Harris, David Duchovny and William Fichtner all played Russians, but once I realized there wouldn’t be any American counterparts in this film, it was easier to accept. And I was very thankful that for once there were no fake Russian accents to endure.

The movie is set in 1968. The aging Captain of a submarine, Demi (Ed Harris), is assigned a final mission on an old submarine on which he served decades ago. Why he is assigned and what the mission is, isn’t said. He’s surprised to find out that two people he’s not familiar with will come aboard as well, not telling him why they join the mission.

Once on board strange things happen. A dog which isn’t there attacks the Captain, he sees people who die in a fire. We soon get to know that these are hallucinations and that the Captain suffers from epilepsy due to a head trauma. The backstory will be revealed later on.

Because he has an epileptic fit, things escalate quickly and loyalties are tested. Shortly after that the two strangers show their real faces and the movie turns into a thriller.

I can’t say too much or the movie would be spoilt. It’s based on a true event, the disappearance of a submarine in 1968, but that’s as historical as it gets. Nobody has ever found out what happened to said submarine. This movie just tries to imagine one possibility and the diea is quite chilling.

Phantom is a rather slow movie that takes a lot of time to show interior shots, which capture very well how narrow and claustrophobic it is in a submarine. There are hardly any outside shots as the bulk of the action takes place inside. The enemies, so to speak, are among the crew members, and finding out who is on which side is an important element.

Phantom doesn’t make my top submarine movie list, but it’s watchable, especially when you like Harris and Duchovny.

The Hunt For Red October (1990) A Cold War Submarine Thriller

There are two things that I do not like at all. Spy stories and Cold War stories. Although this isn’t a spy story, it is decidedly a Cold War Thriller. I know that many people like this movie and I am really sorry to say that I found it so boring, that watching it until the end was really, really hard. Plus Sean Connery. I am not too fond of him and I really hate Sam Neill. Still, I can see how one could like it but it was definitely not my cup of tea and I will never ever watch it again.

The Hunt for Red October is based on a novel by Tom Clancy. The basic plot line is the decision of the best Russian sub commander, Cpt Ramius (Sean Connery), to defect with his submarine the Red October (yes, a subtle allusion to the October Revolution and, yes again, the movie is full of such subtleties). The Red October is one huge submarine. The biggest submarine in the world. Additionally it is equipped with a silent jet water propulsion system which enables the sub to evade sonar detection.

Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin), a sub expert for the CIA, has detected the system and he will be the advisor during this “Cold War goes Speed 3” enthrallment (sorry, I can’t help being sarcastic but I will try to pull myself together from now on). He thinks from the beginning that Ramius might not plan to attack the US as everybody fears but that he might want to defect with a group of his fellow officers.

Things get nasty and complicated when the whole Russian fleet starts to hunt the Red October. The Commander of the Russian fleet is played by Stellan Skarsgrad who is always great to watch even though this is just a very small role.

Tensions are high all through the movie, the chase is action-packed, the acting probably not bad if you like the actors.  But, as said, I am not into Cold War movies. And the language bit was very annoying. First the Russian crew talks Russian – believe it or not – and then they switch to English which doesn’t heighten realism but feels like a parody.

The IMDb rate is 7.6/10. Mine would be overall 1.5/5. Slick, glossy and VERY boring.