Action thrillers in the 90s were a completely different beast, we had films that deep-dived into some of the most gruesome and authentic action set pieces we could have ever gotten. The Hunt for Red October was one such film, going deeper into the action genre than anything else before it. It was also a film jam-packed with some of the biggest names in Hollywood at the time. The best thing about this film was that it was helmed by one of the biggest names in action at the time, John McTiernan. If you know John McTiernan, you know that action in the 90s, and the late 80s was an absolute vibe!
How to Stream or Download The Hunt for Red October
You can stream it or you can download the film from several digital stores. Click on the Download button at the end of this review. If you like Sean Connery, check him out also in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003).
The Movie Review
The Hunt for Red October is the story of an actual ticking time bomb set during the Cold War era. Although it’s not a real bomb, it’s more deadly than anything else in the world. A CIA Analyst named Jack Ryan has managed to figure out a scheme that a Soviet Nuclear Submarine Commander named Captain Marko Ramius has violated orders and is defecting to the United States with his crew and the most advanced ballistic missile submarine in the Soviet navy. Now it’s up to Jack Ryan, to correctly communicate the Soviet commander’s motivation before a violent spark between the Soviet and American navies ensues!
John McTiernan is a master of suspense and action, the intensity with which he crafts his films is consistently great. This is exactly the case with the hunt for red October, a film that relies entirely on the mystery and suspense of Ramius’ motive of defection. The film focuses extra on Sean Connery as the eccentric Soviet Commander, and also on Alec Baldwin’s Jack Ryan whose job relies entirely on decoding what Ramius is coming to the United States for.
The film is carried by all of these accumulated performances, each actor giving their all in the roles that were assigned to them. You can’t point to one actor and name them as the standout because every single actor in this film is performing to their maximum limit.
Though of course if we were picking favorites, it has to be Sean Connery as the ambiguous and eccentric Soviet Commander Ramius. Connery has basically mastered the art of looking and feeling exactly like the mysterious person he is playing in every other film. From his work as 007 Bond to his work as Ramius, his consistency is flawless just as it always has been.
Tim Curry and James Earl Jones also deliver some of the best performances of their entire career, bringing a new nuanced take on the classic CIA and Soviet characters. Alec Baldwin is also genuinely great here, performing a role that is completely different from the ones he is more commonly known for.
There are a few issues in the film though, namely when it comes to the film’s pacing. Now I know that pacing issues and thrillers are a minor inconvenience. Thrillers namely rely on slower scenes, and scenes that develop the story so that they can have an explosive climax. Though in the case of this film, some of the scenes just felt unnecessary, bringing in exposition for the sake of it instead of letting the story develop organically. Otherwise, though, this would have been a perfect film in its entirety.
The cinematography here is extremely good, using a bunch of different colors and production design assets to create a mood and atmosphere that you wouldn’t find anything but in a John McTiernan joint. There is a lot of emphasis on the color red here, whether in the curtains or the seats of the submarine, or the blood coming out of a dead or wounded soldier. I might turn around that there is a lot of red in this film, and every single moment that the red is used is simply perfection.
The Bottom Line
To top it all off, this film isn’t as action-centric as you would believe it to be. It’s more of a character study of an eccentric, wounded, and genuinely conflicted Soviet commander who has left his duties in regard to what he feels is right. The film brings this sense of weight and puts it all on Connery’s shoulders, and he carries it tremendously and with such grace that there is no flaw that can be found in this film due to his performance.
The minor flaws that are within this film, are so minute that they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. This is a gorgeously shot, thematically resonant, and emotionally triggering film that will give you an engaging and exciting experience from beginning to end.
- Fantastically acted, Connery is a powerhouse.
- Gorgeously shot.
- The air-tight script doesn’t miss a beat.
- Decent action sequences that add to the film.
- Slow burner to the point of having some filler sequences.