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Hunter Killer

‘Das Boot’ and ‘Crimson Tide’ were submarine movies which defined the genre. Tin cans filled with various personalities defying the deadly depths and each other have usually made for gripping viewing. Based on Don Keith’s novel, ‘Hunter Killer’ wrings much drama from its setting with land-based action, mixing up the narrative. This blend of land/sea dramatics generally works as the cast go about their paces above and under the sea.

An American submarine mysteriously vanishes while following a Russian sub in the Arctic. Commander Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) is sent to investigate. In charge of a sturdy underwater vessel, Glass has to prove his worth to his charges. Meanwhile a group of Navy Seals, led by Lieutenant Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens) must rescue the Russian President from a military insurrection. Events heat up in land and sea as the world moves to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.
Unlike similar movies, ‘Hunter Killer’ isn’t an exercise in jingoistic flag-waving. The only chest beating happening are those in the action scenes, of which there are many. Whilst ‘Hunter Killer’ is a straight up thriller, it makes effort in exploring the dynamics of team work in all areas. How choices can make or break a situation is well handled. Loyalty and trust plays a big part in achieving goals as their wits become more important than.

No one will win awards for their performances in ‘Hunter Killer’. That doesn’t particularly matter as it strives to be an entertaining spectacle. Butler provides a solid stoic presence as does Stephens. Gary Oldman, appearing as a cynical Admiral, enjoys chewing the scenery and the pay-check that comes with it. Occasionally the cheap-looking CGI betrays some scenes, but the characters and strong story-telling help paper over any cracks.

Consistently exciting and interesting, ‘Hunter Killer’ delivers the goods. It isn’t a game-changing experience as it heavily borrows from other works. There’s much to recommend it, however, like many other submarine set films, it does little in making one want to travel in such claustrophobic confines anytime soon.

Rating out of 10: 6

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX

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