HOLLYWOOD—There is no better feeling than entering a movie with no expectations whatsoever, but to leave the theater thoroughly entertained beyond your expectations. That is precisely how I felt about the action-thriller, “Hunter Killer.” It was a movie that received very little publicity with the likes of “A Star is Born,” “Venom” and “Halloween” dominating TV spots and advertisements for the month of October.
This adventure involves a US Navy Team who is tasked to locate a U.S. submarine, the USS Tampa Bay that has vanished near the Artic, near a Russian base. At first you don’t have major fervor of star power, but “Hunter Killer” has an eclectic cast that includes Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Linda Cardellini, Toby Stephens, Michael Nyqvist and Common. It’s fun to see Butler in a lead role again as the commander of the USS Arkansas. Joe Glass has a peculiar way of making decisions with his crew, and it’s not a role that requires him to be half clothed.
In their search for the missing vessel, Glass and his crew find themselves immersed in a game of cat-and-mouse with Russian Defense Minister Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy). Gorevoy is surprisingly fun as the villain of the movie. It’s a rare accomplishment in the action arena, where you have a villain that is menacing, yet at the same time charming and calculating. I’ve argued this before in the cinematic arena and I will argue it until filmmakers catch a clue: the antagonist is just as important as the protagonist! Never underestimate their role in the narrative and their character development.
Glass and his crew have to find a way to rescue the Russian president, while also attempting to prevent a war from breaking out. Director Donovan Marsh does a fond job of balancing the action, with character development, but also carefully pacing a movie that if not crafted the way it was done could easily force boredom to pierce into the mind of the movie audience. I’ve seen plenty of submarine flicks that haven’t been able to deliver in the past, “The Hunt for the Red October,” “U-571,” the list can go on and on.
“Hunter Killer” finds a way to take a subgenre of the action arena that hasn’t always been popular with audiences and made it entertaining. We have the action we want, we have compelling characters, we have a fun narrative and what you witness seems plausible. Maybe it’s a little far-fetched, but I’ve seen things in cinema that I know single-handedly could never transpire in the real world. This is a film that is a rare breed that delivers excitement that you would have never expected. I enjoyed every single minute of this movie.