on June 27, 2004
Based on Tom Clancy's 1984 novel of the same title, "The Hunt for Red October" is the first Jack Ryan adventure on film. Although I like Harrison Ford better in the role of Jack Ryan than either Alec Baldwin or Ben Affleck, "Red October" is the best of the Ryan films partly because of the script, but largely because of the ensemble cast including Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, Tim Curry, James Earl Jones and, of course, Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius, the Lithuanian-born commanding officer on the Soviet nuclear submarine Red October who seeks to defect to the United States. Tension builds as Ramius and the Red October move closer to U.S. waters with the Soviet Navy in pursuit and U.S. forces unsure of Ramius' true intentions. "The Hunt for Red October" is a taut thriller, an excellent movie based on a modern masterpiece of a novel, and I fully recommend it.
on August 6, 2007
this is a very well done and engaging political thriller.it's base on an event which may or may not have occurred in 1984.it's about a rogue Russian Submarine that has disappeared and may be headed toward American territory.the question is,why?both the Russians and the U.S are hunting the sub and have their own reasons for doing so.but time is of the essence.the movie is basically a psychological suspense thriller.this isn't what i would call a nail biting movie,though it does has its moments.it's more of a character study,of one man in particular,the commander of the Russian sub.the last 30 minutes or so are quite tense and down to the wire.the whole movie is highly dramatic but not at all boring,thanks to good writing and directing.Larry Ferguson and Donald Stewart co wrote the screenplay from a novel by Tom Clancy.John McTiernan of Die Hard fame directed.this is an intelligent,thought provoking thriller and i would highly recommend it.you might also want to check out U571 and Crimson Tide
While I usually try to avoid all things Baldwin, this film is just way too good to miss. It’s hard to imagine a more compelling storyline, which centers on a preeminent Soviet submarine captain going rogue with the shiniest new toy in the Soviet arsenal – the Red October, a new Typhoon class submarine designed for the purpose of sneaking past US defenses and delivering a devastating first strike in any war between the two Cold War adversaries. No one knows what this captain is going to do – not the Soviets and not the Americans. Obviously, the greatest and most likely outcome is an attack on the eastern US that would initiate World War III. At the same time, however, there is also the possibility that Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) might be trying to defect. Neither outcome is palatable to the Soviet regime, so they send the bulk of their fleet toward the North Atlantic to find and destroy the Red October. For the Americans, though, it’s not so simple. Only one thing is clear – they have to find the sub before it penetrates America’s coastal defenses and figure out what Captain Ramius is planning to do. That’s where CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) comes in.
The film’s cinematography is excellent – well, apart from what appears to me to be a rather poor green screen shot in the final scene. It can’t be easy to film the bulk of a movie within the close quarters of a submarine – granted, the Red October is pretty freakin’ huge for a sub, but it’s still a sub. Director John McTiernan may be known for blowing up everything in sight in Die Hard, but there really are no extravagant special effects in this movie. This is an intellectual thriller, where subtle hints and exercises in logic drive the story, and when all is said and done you can easily come to believe that everything you’ve seen might really have happened. Tom Clancy really was a master storyteller who took care that no loose strings were left behind.
I'm not going to compare this to other movies featuring Jack Ryan, largely because the only other one I’ve seen is The Sum of All Fears, which features another actor I don’t care for. I will say that Alec Baldwin was good in this movie. Sean Connery, of course, steals the show. His Russian accent won’t win any awards, but the stoicism and inscrutability with which he plays his character really maintains the suspense and keeps you guessing what he’s really up to for most of the movie. He’s equally believable as both a defector and a madman determined to start World War III. The supporting cast, boasting the likes of James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, Tim Curry, and Fred Thompson is top-notch, as well. And, with a running time of two hours and fifteen minutes, you truly get your money’s worth from The Hunt for Red October.
on July 23, 2000
THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, the third film in John McTiernan's "holy trinity" of action films (following 1987's PREDATOR and 1988's DIE HARD) ranks as one of the finest action thrillers of modern times. What makes it rise miles above slop like the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced CRIMSON TIDE is the intelligent script. Viewers feel like they are immersed in this military underwater world, complete with submariner jargon that hasn't been "dumbed down" or "conveniently explained" for you. The story is tense, believable, and PLAUSIBLE, factors often missing from lesser knock-offs of this film.
Alec Baldwin brings so much believability and humanity to the character of CIA analyst Jack Ryan that Harrison Ford's subsequent portrayals of Ryan, albeit in far inferior movie sequels, seem wooden and stiff. But that is mostly the fault of the scripts he had to work with. And Philip Noyce, who directed Ford in the 2 Clancy movies so far, just isn't the director McTiernan is.
But what this DVD SORELY lacks is the THX treatment that the RED OCTOBER laser disc got. Why Paramount didn't insist on it is a mystery to me.
Great, great movie, but it deserves the superior picture and sound that THX affords. Hate to say it, but the laser disc beats the DVD in this case.
If you pay close attention to the RED OCTOBER movie trailer included on this DVD, though, you can see a shot of footage of some AWAC planes that didn't make it into the final film. That's the fun of movie trailers included on DVDs. You get to see what the trailer editors had to work with long before the final cut of the film was delivered to the distributors for release. (Another example: the trailer for BATMAN RETURNS featured a different take of a Michelle Pfeiffer line reading than the one that ended up in the film - a noticeably different one. But I digress...)
Back to RED OCTOBER: Great film! Even a buddy of mine who is career military finds this film fascinating and believable! But you are not getting the best video transfer available by buying the DVD.
on July 28, 1999
In this action thriller, based on the national best-seller by Tom Clancy, Sean Connery gives a riveting performance as a top Communist naval commander who steals one of Mother Russia's newest and deadliest nuclear submarines, heading for the U.S. But is he heading there to defect, or to launch his missiles? This film features a wonderfully complex leading performance by Connery that is a breath of fresh air in a genre that all too often mires itself in testosterone to the exclusion of everything else. Alec Baldwin also shows surprising depth as Jack Ryan, the role made famous in later Clancy-based films by Harrison Ford. While most likely appealing most to men, this film avoids many pitfalls that plague films of this genre, including predictability and a formula plot. Director John McTiernan cleverly paces the plot and the suspense, and thankfully avoids overwhelming the militarily-challenged in his audience with all the techno-speak that pervades this story. Wonderful supporting performances, especially by Sam Neill as Connery's second-in-command, struggling to keep the crew in line while wrestling at times with his own doubts about the captain's sanity. Great cinematography, script, and editing. While it might seem dated given the collapse of the Soviet Union, this thriller is well worth buying, especially if you're a Connery fan looking for something in his post-James Bond era.
on June 17, 2003
The Hunt For Red October
1990 Film Version
One of the things I learned about screenplay writing is that adapting a book, particularly a popular novel, is not always an easy task. Syd Field's book, Screenplay, devotes an entire chapter to the subject of adaptation. Field points out, and I am paraphrasing here, that novels and screenplays are two different forms of writing. Each has its own rules and each one differs vastly in purpose. A novel, for instance, is meant to be read by a large audience and each reader can read it at his or her own pace. Screenplays, on the other hand, are the blueprints for the making of movies. Both tell a story, and if a novel is being adapted into a screenplay, often the same story.
I offer this caveat because many Tom Clancy fans often feel that movie versions of their favorite novels often disappoint them. Scenes and characters - even entire subplots and/or adversaries' motivations - often vanish or are altered beyond recognition.
This is true even in John McTiernan's "The Hunt for Red October," the first of the four films adapted from Clancy's Jack Ryan novels.
Starring Sean Connery as Soviet Captain First Rank Marko Ramius, Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst John Patrick (Jack) Ryan, and James Earl Jones as CIA Deputy Director (Intelligence), McTiernan's film catches the spirit, rather than the letter, of Clancy's first best-selling novel.
Had screenwriters Larry Ferguson and Donald Stewart even attempted to be as slavishly faithful to Clancy's novel, it is unlikely that producer Mace Neufeld would have been able to get Paramount Pictures to undertake such a massive production. To depict the hunt for a defecting Typhoon-class submarine would have required expensive miniature effects sequences, for what makes Clancy's novel so exciting is the ensuing face-off between most of the Soviet Navy and a large fraction of the U.S. Navy. Could it have been done? Perhaps...but it would have cost almost as much as Titanic did (over $200 million).
Also not included in the screenplay were passing references to Patriot Games, which in the chronology of the books is a prequel to Hunt, as well as a secondary storyline (what TV writers would call a B story) involving an American spy working for the Soviets. Clancy readers know that this storyline will be developed in two other novels. However, in order to make this movie move smoothly, many scenes and characters were simply not included.
In spite of these compromises - or perhaps because of them - McTiernan manages to tell a gripping action adventure piece that is also cerebral. Connery's Ramius (despite his distinctive Scots burr) is strikingly similar to the one in the novel. Baldwin's Jack Ryan also comes close to his literary alter-ego, and one wonders how the franchise would have fared had he not been replaced by Harrison Ford for two films and Ben Affleck in the latest Clancy-based movie, 2002's The Sum of All Fears. Even the sea chase - now pared down to one Alfa-class submarine and a Bear Foxtrot anti-sub warfare patrol plane for the Soviets, and one Los Angeles-class nuclear attack sub and one Perry-class frigate onscreen - makes this movie worth watching.
Until recently, the first three Jack Ryan movies had been given the barebones DVD treatment by Paramount Home Video. Even these are an improvement over the VHS tape versions. Restored to its original wide-screen version and its soundtrack enhanced with Dolby digital tracks in English and French, The Hunt for Red October's original DVD version had only the theatrical trailer as an extra feature. The current 2003 re-release is supposedly better, with more extra features and director's commentaries.
on September 23, 2000
This is simply an awesome movie! This film was filled with action, suspense, good plot, everything a film needs. I'm glad to see that the other reveiwers gave it good ratings, except for the ones that whined about the bad transition to DVD. (By the way, the 2-3 second pause is not an error, the player is switching disc layers.) One of the very few novel-based movies that was not ruined when made a movie, but the book was still twenty times better. Its casting was perfect. Sean Connery (Goldfinger, The Rock, Entrapment), who I think is the best actor of all time, was excelant as Ramius. Alec Baldwin was very good as Jack Ryan, though maybe not as good as Harrison Ford in "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger". The Cast also includes James Earl Jones and Sam Neill. Depending on the mood I'm in, this is my favorite movie. I like movies filled with action and special effects, like The Rock and Con Air. I also like movies that make you think, like 12 Monkeys. The Hunt for Red October fits both categories (so does The Matrix, another one of my favorite movies). I bet some people who are reading this are saying, "Red October doesn't make you think". Well, it doesn't if you just sit around and wait for all the questions to be answered. That is why I don't recommend this movie to losers or idiots.
There are a number of submarine films that have garnered acclaim, including this one. It's very suspenseful and the acting carries the film, rather than special effects, which were state-of-the-art at the time but are kept in a supporting role, as they should be in this film. Like most cold war films and submarine films with no female roles, it will likely not appeal as much to a female audience (at least that's true in my family!).
The basic plot is as follows: Red October is a new and technologically superior Russian submarine and it's heading for the USA under the command of the highly reputed Captain Ramius (Sean Connery). It was created as an undetectable submarine for the purpose of planting bombs/missiles on the USA coast. The Russians soon believe Ramius intends to defect and they send their navy out to sink his submarine. The Russians do not want to reveal the existence of this new submarine to the Americans and tell them that Ramuis has gone mad and intends to fire missiles on the USA. They ask for help locating his submarine. The Americans worry that the Russians are really coming to attack and so they are preparing for war. American CIA analyst Jack Ryan (the lead character from Tom Clancy novels, which this film is based on) is a submarine expert who believes he understands Captain Ramius' motives and can stop a war if he can communicate with the Captain.
The blu-ray looks and sounds excellent, a definite improvement over the DVD. I picked it up for about $8 on Amazon.ca. In terms of special features there's not much: a director's commentary, a theatrical trailer, and a 20-minute documentary on the making of the film which is good but is not remastered and looks rather grainy.
If you like this film, you may like other well reputed submarine films like: K-19 The Widowmaker, U-571, The Enemy Below (1958), Run Silent Run Deep (1958), Crimson Tide (1985), Up Periscope (1959), and Das Boot (the 1981 German film which many believe to be the best submarine film ever).
If you like the Jack Ryan character, there are 5 films based on this Tom Clancy character so far: The Hunt for Red October (1990, played by Alec Baldwin in his first major role), Patriot Games (1992, played by Harrison Ford), Clear and Present Danger (1994, also played by Harrison Ford), Sum of All Fears (2002, played by Ben Affleck), and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2014, played by Chris Pine).
on September 27, 2003
Adapting any book to the screen is a tall order, but adapting a dense Tom Clancy book, like "The Hunt for Red October," is easily concievable as a challenge. In part, that is why this film adaption is so watchable. It still keeps the meticulous essence of the book while maintaining an up-tempo pace. That part is due to talented action director John Mctiernan (Die Hard, Predator, The Thomas Crown Affair). Already having made a name for himself with the teriffic "Die Hard," Mctiernan brought that same sense of preciseness and pace to this film. But it would be irresponsinble to neglect the films' outstanding cast, which include Alec Baldwin pulling out a great performance as the reluctant hero Jack Ryan, the crusty Sean Connery as the stoic Russian submarine captain, Sam Neil as his loyal first mate, Tim Curry as the Russian ships' doctor and James Earl Jones as the head of the CIA.
The film starts as Connery takes a revolutionary Russian nucleur sub Red October in a daring attempt to defect to the Americans. When the Russians get wind of this, they stop it nothing to retrieve the sub before the Americans. A tense chase insues as the Red October is caught between the American Atlantic fleet and half the Russian navy. To try and help the Captain in his quest, CIA specialist Jack Ryan boards the sub to help it reach safety. But in their midst their may be a sabateur with more loyality to his country than his Captain.
The exciting story is compounded by the films' up-tempo pace, exceptional cast and tense action. Though my favorite Jack Ryan is Harrison Ford (hey, he's Harrison Ford, one cannot help but get behind him) Alec Baldwin gets that close to passing him as Ryan. In some ways, Baldwin makes better decisions about how to portray the hero than Ford, surprisingly. All this adds up to one of the best action movies I have seen.
The date 1984 still in the time of the Soviet Union. The latest class of submarine was just completed. Rumor has it that it has a type of propulsion that would make it invisible to the U.S. detectors. A perfect first strike vehicle. It is about to take its maiden voyage with Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) from Georgia at the helm. Along with him is his second in command and confidant Captain 2nd Rank Vasily Borodin (Sam Neill). Keeping a close eye on them is Political Officer Ivan Yurevich Putin (Peter Firth) and probably others.
The submarine, named Red October seems to have disappeared. Both the Soviet government and the U.S. government are sweating. Does this mean that somehow Captain Marko Ramius has broken his bonds and initiating first strike to become a hero?
CIA analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) reads the same sings and comes up with a different conclusion. For his insight he will have to travel by helicopter to the U.S. sub in pursuit.
Based on a Tom Clancy Novel the film has all the pacing and intrigue of the novel. More than just another run of the mill sub movie this is a battle of wills and understanding. Very few Cowboys under water scenes.
Even thought Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin are the main focus of the film the scene where Captain Ramius and Captain Borodin are discussing their future is quite moving and unforgettable especially when the future is played out.