Gerard Butler as Captain Joe Glass is back protecting America again. First it was at the White House and then in London now he is a sub captain who came up through the ranks and did not attend the Academy.
The screen play which has a solid beginning in which US and Russian submarines are destroyed in the North Atlantic. The action in the Atlantic near Russia causes many scenarios to appear on either side. Did the US submarine attack and sink the Russians and what caused the sinking of the American sub are two questions. Butler’s Captain Glass is chosen to take the only submarine capable of heading into the action site. He makes it clear he came up from the ranks but intends to take control. Almost immediately, Carter MacIntyre as XO Brian Edwards challenges the Captain’s direction. That adds tension throughout the film, but expect Butler will come out on top in the end.
With solid special effects early on we see the two war ships sitting on the bottom of the ocean, one with markings that are clearly from inside the sub. Butler when he is informed that folks remain alive in the Russian sub immediately determines they must be saved. In an exciting sequence Michael Nyqvist who plays the Russian captain is rescued. That leads to the unraveling of a major conspiracy to depose the Russian President. So now Butler must help rescue the leader of Russia as he did the American President in two films before.
With the Russian President held captive by his military leaders at a port in the North Atlantic, Butler must move his sub into the military base and pick up the seal team that is about to invade the Soviet enclave and get the President out of the hands of his own military. The banter between the Russian Captain and Butler dealing with the sailing into the secured harbor is exciting but too long.
As time passes the entire screen play languishes and masks the early events which are attention getters, both visually and for the danger each side is placed in.
Film has a great history under the sea in submarines, a few are: Destination Tokyo 1943 with Gary Grant who needs to slip into Tokyo harbor similar to Hunter Killer which must weave its way between mines protecting in the entry. “Run Silent Run Deep 1958” with Clark Gable and Sean Connery as the captain of the Red October are a couple of others. Probably the best is Das Boot 1981.
“Hunter Killer” is filled with static military leaders on both sides who are not willing to listen to the experienced folks on their staff. The Russian military leader can’t wait for a battle with the United States. At the same time Gary Oldman as the key US military advisor is also inching to get it on with the Russians. The characterizations of the military leaders stretches reality, and we observe events that are over the top even for a movie.
Hunter Killer gives us some exciting scenes but to many situations to keep it creditable.