“We did not fire on your submarine; no one did,” says US submarine Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) to his Russian counterpart, Captain Sergi Andropov (Michael Nyqvist). “It blew up from the inside out. You were sabotaged.” The Russian Federation’s Minister of Defense, Admiral Dmitri Durov (Michael Gor), leader of a military coup, has deposed President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko) and plans to provoke a hot war with the United States. That’s the setup for “Hunter Killer,” a second-rate and plot-heavy action flick.
Can Russian and American submarine captains trust each other? Can four Navy SEALs find and rescue the deposed Russian President? Can you follow this muddled and complicated plot? I couldn’t.
Gerard Butler is stoic, no-nonsense Captain Joe Glass, promoted through the ranks, with no Annapolis-graduation boost. He talks to his crew in everyday language as they begin to search for missing US sub Tampa Bay. “We’re going to find them,” Glass says. “Follow orders. Your jobs, my responsibility.” Michael Nyqvist is Russian Federation Captain Sergi Andropov, who may — or may not — help Glass in the search. Gary Oldman plays Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Charles Donnegan; Common is Rear Admiral John Fisk. Caroline Goodall is US President Dover; Linda Carde, NSA analyst Jayne Norquist.
Others in the large cast include Toby Stephens, Devin Hall, Matt Johnstone and Zane Holtz as mission-impossible Navy SEALs who, against incredible odds, rescue equally astonishing Russian President Zakarin, played by Alexander Diachenko. Michael Gor is bad-guy Admiral Dmitri Durov.
“Hunter Killer” is an action thriller, directed by Donovan Marsh and written by Arne Schmidt and Jamie Moss, from George Wallace and Don Keith’s novel, “Firing Point.” While the film has plenty of military action — especially risky undersea submarine maneuvers — its geopolitical plot makes little sense in today’s world, and its boat-load of characters is difficult to keep sorted out. “Who are these people,” I asked myself multiple times, “and what are they doing?” One-dimensional characters make decisions without apparent motivation — Dmitri Durov’s coup, for example, is never explained. Why does he believe that President Zakarin must be removed from office? And the film’s over-extended action finale — full of missiles, torpedoes, explosions and shouting people — makes little sense.
Rated R for pervasive violence and some language, “Hunter Killer” runs (a long) 121 minutes.
Submarines and Navy SEALs
In Cold-War action thriller;
Muddled plot and second-rate,
You can miss “Hunter Killer.”