Sunday, December 31, 2017

Movie Review // The Hunt for Red October (1990) with Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin

The Hunt for Red October is emblematic of a lot of the new movies I’ve been introduced to and come to love this year, and is now securely in my top 10 favorites.

I don’t want to give away too many plot details, but set during the Cold War, it’s the first of the three original Jack Ryan films.

The solemnity, power, and majesty of the opening sequence is breathtaking.

The plot revolves around Marko Ramius, a high-ranking Soviet submarine captain who decides to defect along with most of his officers, but keeping the rest of his crew in the dark -- and all while bringing along with them their entire, state-of-the-art, newly designed nuclear sub.

The entirety of the Soviet fleet in the region is scrambling and soon hard on their heels while the Americans are (at first) puzzling out the strange anomaly bearing down on them, then under orders of their own to hunt her down.

One man, Jack Ryan (ex-Marine now an author for the CIA), is the only one completely convinced Ramius intends to change sides. In a race against the clock and the Red Navy, he ends up arguing his case in Washington and ultimately taking a rough chopper ride – dropping quite literally into the frigid waters of the North Sea to get aboard the gutsy American sub the Dallas, which has been trailing Ramius.

Speaking of which, the whole transferring-from-helicopter-to-submarine section is one of my top favorite parts: so crazy and plucky and risky and determined… and laced throughout with great, subtle humor.

Back to Ramius. He has experienced huge recent tragedy in his own life, but he doesn’t get bogged down in grief and depression. Yet you don’t get the sense he’s bottling everything up and lashing out either. Instead, he’s moving forward, giving himself to action.

Distinguished and masterful, with the weightiness of authority, he’s a leader of men, yet exhibiting at times glints of gentleness and humor.

The sheer audacity and wit involved in pulling off such a scheme is amazing -- especially keeping his whole crew in the dark yet fighting fiercely throughout for their current and future safety.

*SPOILERS* The whole ending scene with Vasily is SO SAD. I cried the first time I saw it. And I think the second time too. *END SPOILERS*

The crew of the Dallas is just simply plucky and daring and serious and fun. Like cowboys loose under the ocean. (In a similar way to how my husband describes Captain Kirk in Star Trek, most of which I’ve also come to love this year. ;)) Good camaraderie is always one of my favorite story elements. Spirited ribbing and joking under pressure while running against life and death stakes, it’s the stuff of which epic adventures are made.

And the no-nonsense Captain Bart Mancusa is a great example of leadership in his own right.

*SPOILERS* Another favorite sequence is the teamwork and back-and-forth exchange of command in the final scenes. Really like that part.

(And I couldn’t find a terribly good screencap, for this, but I also love the diplomatic statecraft scenes in Washington, with their hilarious dry humor on an ambassadorial level.)

As far as content, there’s one scene with Jack taking a shower and shaving that shows his shoulders, and there’s some language throughout, but it’s… traditional (not modern swear words, if that makes sense). And it’s an action film, but there’s not too much blood and you can see it coming.

Last but CERTAINLY not least, it has a thrilling musical score. The depth and tempo and power of Russian music never fails to give me tingles.

It may sound cliché, but each time I’ve seen The Hunt for Red October, I find myself thinking about what I’m doing on a daily level, knowing it counts, and wanting to make sure to live in such a way that it makes a difference. Even on the most regular, ordinary day ever.

Well crafted and well written, it’s moving and inspiring and most definitely makes you want to stand up and cheer at the end.

Posted for Hamlette and Quiggy’s Inspirational Heroes Blogathon, which you can read more about (plus links to all the other entries) here.

Tell me! Have you seen The Hunt for Red October? What do you think? 


  1. Interesting. I wouldn't have thought about this movie and these characters as inspirational, but everything you say is so true. Subliminally, I hope I picked up some of their extraordinary every day courage.

    I like how you mentioned the humor in the diplomatic exchanges. I loved Richard Jordan's performance, particularly how he put his accent on and off according to the situation.

  2. Saw it in the theater when it first came out. I avidly read the book when it was first published too. I thought the director did a halfway decent job. I loved sean Connery's portrayal of Ramius. Good review.

  3. Vasily makes me sad every time we watch it. How he was so amazed that he could be allowed to drive across state boarders without a permit and wanted to raise rabbits and have a pickup and...he was like a little kid and...*sobs*

  4. I've never watched this, but I think I will have to, now! Great review :-)

  5. I love this movie! Just so good. You're right, the soundtrack is awesome -- very stirring, and yet with that sort of resigned melancholy that so much Russian music seems to have.

    Cowboy and I quote this movie ALL the time. "You've lost another submarine?" "Perhaps I shall need two wives." "I would like to have seen Montana." "No papers?" "It was Paganini." SO awesome.

  6. I have never watched this movie. Usually I am not a big fan of classical movies and even watch a single movie online. I love to watch action movies. But after reading your review it sounds good and I will watch online this movie later on my next holiday.


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