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K-19: The Widowmaker

K-19: The Widowmaker

This action-packed film is based on a 1961 incident involving the Soviet Union's first nuclear sub, that was kept secret from the world for 30 years.

Liam Neeson plays Mikhail Polenin, captain of a new nuclear submarine in the Russian navy.  Because of a lot of technical and mechanical problems, Polenin doesn't think the sub is ready for its maiden voyage.  So the higher-ups dispatch Alexi Vostrikov (Harrison Ford), a dour, all-business captain to assume command.

Once under way, the two men clash at every turn.  But Polenin, who is a caring leader who treats his crew as family, takes his demotion in stride and follows orders from his new Commander (even though Neeson's Russian accent is much more believable than Ford's which he seems to slip in and out of a quickly as he can say "up periscope").

Vostrikov puts both crew and sub through its paces while readying it for a missile launch in the North Atlantic.  The Russians know that a U.S. ship is close enough to witness the launch, so they hope that the exercise of power will impress the U.S. government enough to keep them at bay.

But, everything that could possibly go wrong, does.  The young unknown cast has to deal with fires, leaks and broken equipment, but the real edge-of-your-seat action begins when the reactor's cooling system begins to leak and raise the temperature of the core to the brink.

Between the tension from the two captains, the close quarters of the sub, the mounting danger from the leak and possible nuclear accident, it's a nerve wrecking experience.

It's very unusual for a story to be told entirely from a foreigner's point of view.  Director Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break) introduces us with each fresh-faced young sailor, so once the potential for tragedy strikes, we care about their plight.

We are all caught up in their bravery and spirit.

K-19: The Widowmaker

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