Review / ‘Hunter Killer’ (MA) ***

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SUBMARINERS are a special bunch, risking their lives against not only attempts to locate and kill them but also the unremitting threats that their working environment presents to their survival.

Much of “Hunter Killer” takes place in the submarine “USS Arizona” (presumably nuclear-powered; I could not discern any functional or implied references to engines) sent to investigate reports of accidents involving two Russian submarines.

It transpires that the reports are correct, that the Russian head of State (Alexander Diachenko) is visiting the naval base where Admiral Durov (Michael Gor) is planning a military coup. When the Arizona reaches the area, it finds survivors in one of the wrecked Russian boats. Its rescue submersible discovers that one is Russian captain Andropov (Michael Nyqvist, to whom the film is dedicated). When news of Durov’s plan reaches Washington, a SEAL team drops in to rescue the president.

Joe Glass in the “Arizona” has reached captain’s rank from the lower deck. Gerard Butler plays him with a stoically-set jaw. The two captains, Glass and Andropov, join forces to navigate “Arizona” across an uncharted approach to the port (where, I ask, was the Royal Navy in those heady days when it charted the world’s seabeds on charts still published bearing their ships’ names and dates?)

Donovan Marsh directs the film’s tensions and naval shenanigans as though it was telling it like real life. The screenplay by Arne Schmidt and Jamie Moss adapting a novel “Firing Point” by George Wallace and Don Keith tells it with tongue-in-cheek respect. Bottom line? Boys’ Toys on a grand scale, a US Navy recruiting movie with Gary Oldman having fun playing the chief of naval staff. I rather think that genuine submariners might find it a bit of a giggle.

At Dendy, Capitol 6 and Hoyts

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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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