Hunter Killer (2018)
Directed by: Donovan Marsh | 121 minutes | action, thriller | Actors: Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Billy Bob Thornton, Common, Carter MacIntyre, Mikey Collins, Will Attenborough, Michael Nyqvist, Kieron Bimpson, David Gyasi, Michael Jibson, Sarah Middleton, Linda Cardellini, Cosmo Jarvis, Michael Trucco, Toby Stephens
Relive old times in the submarine thriller ‘Hunter Killer’, based on the book ‘Firing Point’ (2012) by Don Keith and George Wallace. South African director Donovan Marsh, best known for small dramas and light-hearted comedies like ‘Spud’, directs action star Gerard Butler (‘300’, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’) in a film that seems straight out of the 90s. to be. The result is a nostalgic, functional thriller that unfortunately has little originality to offer.
The story is a kind of compromise between a classic Cold War story with hostile Russians and a more optimistic view of US-Russian relations. When an American submarine disappears near the North Pole, Joe Glass (Butler) is put in charge of a second submarine to investigate the disappearance. Meanwhile, a team of NAVY Seals in Russia witnesses the kidnapping of the Russian president by a mutinous general. What follows is a race against time to save the president and prevent another world war.
Glass is a typical Gerard Butler character: an underdog (he’s never been a captain before), a tad macho and has no time for nonsense. Butler is more or less on autopilot after two parts of ‘…Has Fallen’, but that’s good enough in this case. He frowns a lot, growls confidently at crew members who are obstructive and, of course, as a new-fangled captain, he turns out to be a born leader.
The rest of the cast is a bit skimpy – rapper Common as admiral doesn’t really want to convince and Oscar and BAFTA winner Gary Oldman, who previously played a brilliant Churchill in ‘Darkest Hour’, has nothing more to do than argue with his fellow admiral. Linda Cardellini (‘Freaks and Geeks’, ‘ER’) also briefly reappears as an NSA analyst whose main role is to play the voice of reason among the overheated alpha males around her.
The Seal team seems to exist mainly because it was thought that two hours in a submarine might be a bit boring (never heard of ‘Das Boot’?), and creates some explosive interludes as they get closer and closer to the mutinous Russian general. heels. Only Toby Stephens (“Die Another Day”, “Lost In Space”) stands out as the level-headed Lieutenant Beaman. The feeling comes after a while that we are actually watching two films in one, which only come together at the end. That’s a shame, because the scenes in the submarine are the most fun, with the exciting highlight being a nail-biting trip through a Russian minefield.
Michael Nyqvist, known as Mikael Blomkvist from the ‘Milennium’ trilogy, deserves a special mention. In one of his last roles, he plays the Russian captain Andropov, who is forced to work with Glass and gradually learns to trust him. A role of few words, in which he lets his face speak for itself.
For fans of old-fashioned action movies and Cold War thrillers, ‘Hunter Killer’ is a must: the film seems to have walked straight out of this era. Unfortunately, that also means that he has little new to offer. More time in the sub and less political bickering on the mainland would have helped the film.