18 May 2003 | MovieAddict2016
The Best of the Jack Ryan Films...
"The Hunt for Red October" is taken off of military-expert Tom Clancy's gripping novel. Tom Clancy has a knack for the inner-psyche of our fears. He doesn't openly thrill us, but rather opens our minds to the potential hazards in the US government. Most government/military thrillers skim the surface and gather us a few good things to make us go, "Whoo," but Tom Clancy's books make us fall over in amazement. The man has an incredible knowledge of the government and its subsidaries, and his novels show this.
His film adaptations normally make good. All four are at least good, and one of them, "The Hunt for Red October," is taut, tense, and powerfully moving. The plot of the film is fictional, but it is right out of the headlines.
It is about a submarine, a Russian, and an American. It sounds like the setup for a bar-joke, but it's not. The Russian man is named Ramius (Sean Connery), who, along with his crew, takes a Soviet submarine out to the North Atlantic ocean. The sub is the best-of-the-best, with an all-new propolsion system (it's faster than other submarines), and uses advanced techniques to literally disappear off radar.
After a few days out at sea, the submarine vanishes off radar, and the Russians, frantic, tell the American government that Ramius has taken the sub to America's mainland to launch a missile attack. However, CIA Analyst Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) thinks otherwise. He believes Ramius is defecting to the States along with his crew. Further, he believes the Russians don't want to admit this for fear of losing their best submarine.
The film is directed by John McTiernan, who brought us "Predator," "Die Hard," "The Thomas Crown Affair" (remake) and "Die Hard with a Vengeance." All of the preceding films are very good, most of them great, and "The Hunt for Red October" qualifies as "very good."
Sean Connery gives a commanding performance as the leading character, Ramius. His second-hand-man is played by Sam Neil, faking a Russian accent very badly. But Neil is lovable in his role, despite having the worst Russian accent ever. Tim Curry joins along for the ride on the misfortuned sub as well, and Alec Baldwin gives his best performance as Jack Ryan.
As much as I don't like to admit it, Harrison Ford isn't the ideal Jack Ryan for me. He differs too much from the character in the novel. Neither Ben Affleck nor Alec Baldwin take the cake, either. But if you look past the book persona, you will enjoy the performances in all the films much more.
I don't tend to like military thrillers most of the time. Most likely because they are put together sloppily on the whole. But "The Hunt for Red October" isn't sloppy, careless, nor boring. It's thrilling, exciting, and entertaining.
But the book is better.
4/5 stars -