Starring: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Tim Curry, Courtney B. Vance, Stellan Skarsgård
Directed by: John McTiernan
Written by: Larry Ferguson, Donald Stewart
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 2 hr 14 min
The Hunt for Red October is the first, and in my opinion most successful Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan adaptation ever made. So good in fact, it’s hard to pick out individual details that are better than anything else in this film. Every aspect of this movie works, and every single minute of this film is used to develop character or move the plot forward. From the solid adaptation of Tom Clancy’s book by Larry Ferguson and Donald Stewart, to John McTiernan’s steady direction. Red October delivers a weighty story well, and does so at a perfectly controlled pace. This movie in my opinion represents what happens when every aspect of the film making process clicks.
Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin deliver great performances in this cold war drama, and are ably supported by Sam Neill, Scott Glenn and James Earl Jones. Even the smaller supporting roles are given enough time and development to make an impression. These are all great characters too, and people you’ll want to root for as the story unfolds. There are even some perfectly placed moments of humor to give the audience a break from the drama.
The visual effects have held up well over the years, and Jan de Bont’s cinematography in and out of the submarines is excellent. Basil Poledouris’s score adds the perfect musical tone to the film, and the Oscar nominated editing by Dennis Virkler and John Wright hits every mark perfectly. I told you, this is as close to perfect as a movie gets! From casting, to the person holding the boom mic, everyone must have brought their A-game when they made this film. I also wouldn’t rule out a mystical cosmic force behind all that, but I think I’ve communicated my appreciation for this movie well enough!
This is a weighty story, but it doesn’t get bogged down trying to be too political or too clever. It presents this story in a serious way, but also doesn’t take itself too seriously.
This big cold war movie needs a huge screen to appreciate properly. At home HD viewing is recommended. Watching this on a laptop, Tablet or phone would be a mistake if it’s your first viewing of this film.
If I had to pick one element above everything else, I would say Alec Baldwin is the best thing about this movie. A great performance as CIA analyst Jack Ryan, thrown into the deep end to confirm his theories about the wayward Soviet nuclear submarine, and the intentions of its captain. As good as Harrison Ford was in his two outings as Jack Ryan, I’ve always been disappointed that Alec Baldwin didn’t continue to develop this character.