Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: "The Hunt for Red October" Still a Goodie

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 3 (of 2014) by Leroy Douresseaux

The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Running time:  134 minutes (2 hour, 14 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for some intense action/violence and language
DIRECTOR:  John McTiernan
WRITERS:  Larry Ferguson and Donald Stewart (based on the novel by Tom Clancy)
PRODUCER:  Mace Neufeld
EDITORS:  Dennis Virkler and John Wright
COMPOSER:  Basil Poledouris
Academy Award winner


Starring:   Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, Richard Jordan, Peter Firth, Tim Curry, Courtney B. Vance, Stellan Skarsgard, Jeffrey Jones, Fred Dalton Thompson, Daniel Davis, Gates McFadden, and James Earl Jones

Advertisements for the upcoming film, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, tout it as the return of the Tom Clancy thriller to the big screen.  That little bit of hard-selling made me want to see the first Tom Clancy thriller to hit movie theatres, again.

The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 naval thriller and action movie from director John McTiernan.  The film is based on The Hunt for Red October, a novel by the late author Tom Clancy that was first published in 1984.  The Hunt for Red October the movie focuses on a rogue Soviet submarine captain and the young CIA analyst who is trying to figure out his every move.

The Hunt for Red October opens in 1984 in the USSR and introduces Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery).  He commands the Red October, a ballistic missile submarine that is virtually undetectable.  The ship’s first mission is to be part of USSR war game exercises, but early in the mission, the Red October disappears.

In the United States, a young CIA analyst, Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin), gets an assignment from Vice Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones), CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence.  Ryan must discover Ramius’ intentions before a war breaks out between the Americans and the Russians over the missing Red October.  Is Ramius trying to defect, or to start a war?

Tom Clancy’s intrepid CIA agent, Jack Ryan, makes his first big screen appearance in The Hunt for Red October.  Actor Harrison Ford would play the character in 1992’s Patriot Games and 2004’s Clear and Present Danger.  Ben Affleck would play Ryan in The Sum of All Fears (2002), which I have not seen as of this writing.  Clear and Present Danger is one of my all-time favorite movies, and honestly, I can’t say if I like Baldwin or Ford more as Ryan, because both are among my favorite actors.

The Hunt for Red October is not a great movie, but it is greatly entertaining.  It is skillfully directed by John McTiernan, who, for a time from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, was one of the supreme directors of big, masculine, and loud action movies.  The expert film editing in this movie reveals McTiernan’s efficiency at creating a story that is part clever and deceptive game and part espionage thriller – all wrapped inside the mechanics of a military film.

Sean Connery as Ramius and Alec Baldwin as Ryan are convincing and proficient, and while this is not their best work, they create characters we want to be next to and follow into adventure.  I had not seen this movie in years, but it is as good as or maybe even better than I remember.  The Hunt for Red October is the techno-thriller that does not require the viewer to be smart to watch it.  That is not a slap at the audience; that’s a compliment to say that The Hunt for Red October is a smart movie that is also successful at entertaining.

8 of 10

1991 Academy Awards, USA:  1 win: “Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing” (Cecelia Hall and George Watters II); 2 nominations: “Best Sound” (Richard Bryce Goodman, Richard Overton, Kevin F. Cleary, and Don J. Bassman), and “Best Film Editing” (Dennis Virkler and John Wright)

1991 BAFTA Awards:  3 nominations: “Best Actor” (Sean Connery), “Best Production Design” (Terence Marsh), “Best Sound” (Cecilia Häll, George Watters II, Richard Bryce Goodman, and Don J. Bassman)

Friday, January 17, 2014

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