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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Based on a true story, K-19: The Widowmaker tells of the Soviet Union's attempt in 1961 to not fall behind the United States in the Cold War. The United States had just launched the Polaris-class nuclear submarines. K-19 was a Russian sub retrofitted for nuclear capabilities. The Soviet crew's assignment was to take the sub into the Arctic and test fire an Intercontinental missile. The Americans would monitor the test as a part of routine surveillance--the test was done relatively close to a NATO outpost for one, and it would notify them that the Soviets had equal capabilities to the American Navy, helping to either stave off war, sustain the Cold War, or both, depending on your interpretation.

    As the film begins, K-19 Captain Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson) is running his crew through a routine simulation. The nuclear reactor ends up having a problem, as it had on previous simulations. Polenin says they're not ready to run the mission yet. Instead of listening to him, the Soviet military powers that be install a new Captain--Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford). Vostrikov is a hard-ass, which doesn't help him go over well with the K-19 crew, who were used to being chummy with Polenin. To make matters worse, Vostrikov has a questionable reputation--many believe that he's only in his position because of familial influence, and this despite the fact that his military father ended up in the gulag. After a number of bad portents, the sub is off on its mission and Vostrikov tries to get the crew into respectable and responsible shape so they can complete their task and get back home. As foreshadowed by the prologue, the K-19 eventually has a crisis with its nuclear reactor. The bulk of the film tells of this dilemma, attempted solutions, and various problems it causes.

    K-19 is incredibly suspenseful and emotionally poignant. But it's perhaps amazing that it creates such nail-biting tension when we consider that on the surface level, it is simply a drama about a piece of machinery. Most of the plot is about trying to fix a broken gadget.

    That might not sound very exciting, but there's much more to the film that a superficial glance at its plot would indicate. Director Kathryn Bigelow makes K-19 a combination of extended character portraits--primarily of Vostrikov, but also of a handful of other K-19 crewmembers, and a subtextual exploration of formal organizations and hierarchies in general.

    Of course, the film is also a tribute to the real-life sacrifices and heroism of the K-19 submarine crew, who couldn't tell their stories for many years due to the Soviet government's official squelching of the incident. And on that end, the film is also a remarkable and perhaps somewhat controversial (politically and even artistically/philosophically) attempt to tell a serious, "balanced" historical story from a perspective "within" another culture.

    Ford's performance is top-notch. He easily coaxes viewers to first hate him, even if they can understand his motivations, then he gradually layers complex nuances of character until we finally turn our opinions about Vostrikov around and empathize with him--but after not a little skepticism, which lingers for most of the central portion of the film--finally rooting for him against those government meanies who just can't understand his decisions because they weren't there. The whole arc easily takes film viewers on the same emotional journey the K-19 sub crew would have had.

    Neeson has a similarly complex arc, but much more subtle--fitting for his supporting role. He goes from being your best buddy to someone to be suspicious of, then someone to be disliked for being a hard-ass of a different sort, then finally he surprises the audience with a saving grace action just about the same time that we realize that Ford as Vostrikov was right all along.

    The film would be worth watching for just these two fine performances. But the crewmembers featured are just as sympathetic, especially when they make their mind-boggling sacrifices.

    The progression of the matrix of dynamic personalities, their judgments, reservations, disputes, and suspicions, their pressing on despite less-than-perfect circumstances, and their relation to edicts from on high resemble what is probably more the norm for any complex, formal organization--not the least of which is the film-making enterprise, and more than likely, wherever you earn your daily keep.

    Most of us have been involved with vocation-oriented projects or tasks that have had to progress despite the fact that a lot of people (involved or not) thought there were problems with the project or task at a fundamental level. This happens in films all the time. Studios and producers demand that a film begins production, maybe because it has to meet a particular release date, maybe because of marketing tie-ins and on and on, yet there still might not be a finished script, or we still don't know who is going to be cast as the villain, or any number of potentially disastrous situations. Vostrikov is like a film director being told to turn in a product on a tight deadline. He's doing the best he can to get the film rolling, and that means getting the crew to stop goofing off so they're ready to shoot, especially if the pressure becomes greater. It's probably a good thing that films don't run on nuclear reactors.

    Of course the more literal political dilemmas that arise later on in the film are equally fascinating. But the humanizing elements of the characterizations and the universalizing elements on the story are what make K-19 hit home so hard. They add to the intriguing historical drama, the great direction and the good cinematography, score and other technical elements to easily push K-19 up to a 10.
  • This was a pretty solid supposed true story of a Russian submarine and its captains during the early 1960s. It's memorable, story-wise, for the radiation victims among the crew members. There are some really dramatic scenes involving that horrific event. Otherwise, it's a story of the sub's problems and the conflict between two captains.

    The story starts slowly so you have to stick with it as it gets better and better as it goes on and rewarding enough to make you glad you hung in there for the whole 137 minutes.

    Profanity is minor and the Russian accents are handled well by the lead actors, led by Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson and Peter Sarsgaard.

    It's not a great film, but it's good and interesting enough to recommend a rental, but not something I'd watch numerous times. Those radiation scenes would be a little too grim to watch numerous times.
  • K-19 has a massive cast, especially in the two lead characters of Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson) and Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford). My understanding is that Ford wanted to take on a role different than ones he had taken in the past to prevent type-casting, and while he does a good job in his role (as does just about everyone involved), the movie does slip up a little bit by having an almost nonexistent Russian presence in what is supposed to be the story of a Russian submarine.

    Comparisons to the far superior Hunt for Red October are inevitable, and it is interesting to note that that movie was also about a Russian submarine but was presented all in English, but it doesn't lose credibility the way K-19 does, probably because it at least maintained a Russian accent, while Ford is speaking an unmistakable American accent and Neeson, well, Neeson is just Neeson and that's always good. He makes a great German but is less convincing as a Russian. I don't know why.

    Nevertheless, as a story about an extremely important submarine mission rife with problems the movie succeeds brilliantly. K-19 is basically Russia's protection again nuclear war, which they fear the Americans might start at any moment. They hope to deter attack by showing evidence that they can issue destruction in return, and it is because of this that the sub is commissioned and sent on a mission to the polar ice caps to launch a test missile. There is a great scene where all of the crew and many other people are witnessing the launch of the submarine, and a woman swings a bottle of champagne on a rope to smash against the hull, but it bounces off unbroken. "We're cursed," one of the dismayed crewmen says. That woman must have felt terrible.

    There is an immediate rivalry between Polenin, who understands the ship's limitations and wants them corrected before beginning the mission, and Vostrikov, who also understands the ship's limitations but also understands how important the mission is and so outranks Polenin's protests. One of the best things about the movie is that the dramatic action is pushed along by genuine concerns. The movie would have suffered terribly if they were ignoring such important problems with the submarine without good reason.

    One of the best things about the movie is that it is able to create so much dramatic tension, even though it takes place during peacetime. There was a huge amount of political tension in the air, but there wasn't a war going on. This is why there is not a lot of concern shown when an American destroyer is sighted near the submarine, because one of the goals of the mission is for the Americans to see what they're doing.

    Instead, a small leak aboard the nuclear sub becomes a problem big enough to potentially start a war. Incidentally, one of the crewmen noticed something wrong with one of the dials at least twice before the leak was discovered (once before the ship left port). Had he reported that problem when he first noticed it, he could have saved the lives of everyone who died because of the radiation and prevented the entire thing. At any rate, once the leak is discovered, the options are to abandon ship and surrender the crucial technology to the Americans (a single concession which could dramatically alter the futures of the two nations, and thus rendering it unacceptable), try to repair the reactor without sufficient protection against the radiation, or scuttle the ship (also unacceptable because of the boat's importance).

    There is a tense scene where Vostikov orders the ship to dive to almost crush depth, one of the obligatory scenes in submarine movies where the hull creaks and groans and everyone stares at the ceiling, like there's something to see there, and then he orders the ship to ascend at breakneck speed, surfacing through a layer of ice. Vostrikov intends to push the boat and the men to the limit so that they all know what the limit is, but unfortunately it culminates in a hugely disappointing display of digital effects as the ship breaks through the ice in something that looks more like it belongs in a cartoon than a serious film like this (I was reminded of the unfortunate Scrat's efforts to save an acorn from a splitting glacier in Ice Age).

    The film requires an extra bit of suspension of disbelief to accept a story about a Russian submarine but without any Russian actors. I'm curious to know how it was received in Russia. I imagine it was a hit, despite the lack of Russian presence in the film, because it illustrates their courage and dedication to their country in the most difficult of times. But nonetheless, it is hugely effective and never lets up once it gets going. The ending strikes me as the part where the most creative liberties were taken with the original true story, leaving you with the feeling of a Hollywood ending imposed on a true story from Russian and American history. But if nothing else, the movie is a fascinating look at how close we came to widespread destruction during one of the most tense times in modern history.
  • I rented this DVD for a little diversion, in spite of the bad buzz and the word "flop" attached. I thought it was a very good movie, very suspenseful and interesting. I don't nitpick about things like accents with films, just try to enjoy them. I agree with the majority of posters here, it is well worth your time.
  • Despite some bad reviews, being the war film fanatic that I am, I went to see this movie. I was expecting something much like U-571, (Men trapped in a disabled boat surrounded by the enemy), and this movie wasn't far from it. I must say that U-571 is my all-time favorite war picture, so I didn't expect The Widowmaker to surpass it. However, it came very close. The story was told well and the acting from most of the newcomers was superb. However, when I left the theater, I didn't want to watch it again for a long while. Not that it was a bad movie. It was just a little too graphic. I'm one who can watch people get blown to bits, decapitated, and crushed, however, since this story is true and the way these men suffered before they died a horrible death, was a little too much for me to watch. I know they couldn't have filmed it any other way. That is what makes this movie so good... the mere fact that I was uneasy while watching it. I found myself gasping... (I'm not one to gasp.)

    The film is based on the story of a Russian sea captain (Harrison Ford) that is ordered to command a new nuclear powered submarine that has been thrown together in a very short amount of time. The objective is to test a missile near the north pole in hopes that the Russian government can catch up to the US who is threatening nuclear war. Although the crew is hesitant to board the ship, they fear the captain's wrath and work without complaint. Of course, the captain is 'do or die' and works the crew mercilessly, much to the dismay of the ship's original captain (Liam Neeson), who can do nothing but watch as his crew gets ready for mutiny. When the nuclear generator malfunctions, it is up to a few brave men to expose themselves to radiation and try and fix the power before disaster strikes and World War 3 begins. What I found most disturbing was the captain's refusal for American help until 7 men were dead and hundreds more were already exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. Watching these brave men slow-cook themselves for the rest of the crew was enough to make me cringe, (while other men dove into freezing water rather than go back into a radioactive submarine.)

    All in all, this movie was a bit too much reality for me. However, it was wonderfully written, directed, and acted. I gave it ********/10.
  • K-19 is a unique entry with a poignant portrayal of the other side of the Iron Curtain, showing the rest of the world the courage and the honour of the Russians to their mother land. Those who think of Russians, usually think of blood thirsty killing beasts who drink Vodka all day, but clearly this is just propaganda. I have Russian background and I have grown up around ethnics, and Russians are no different than the general public. It is American propaganda that has taken the rest of the world from understanding the Russian people. In K-19, the Russians are finally portrayed as human beings in the most harshest of all circumstances. This is not an action movie and it was not intended to be one. Most of the American comments shown here on Imdb are ridiculous. They clearly show the American expectations in a movie: It has to be a blow up, explosion filled, guns and bullets, kill your enemy blockbuster to make it into their best films ever list. K-19 however did not want to impress the Americans with special effects (it seems to the general American public that special effects are all that make quality movies these days) but instead wanted to show the world that Russian soldiers were not cold blooded murderers and were not war thirsty, but were soldiers under extreme circumstances - to show the struggle on the other side and to show the fear of death and the courage and heroics in preventing nuclear war, subsequently sparking World War III.

    I was really impressed that at least some of the American comments were realistic, for anybody who understands cinema would classify this as a "masterpiece". I have come across many hilariously stupid and ridiculous American comments where they think they know what they are talking about and the thing is, they don't. Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson pulled off a brilliant realistic performance. In my opinion, their accents were very well done (I am Russian, so I would know) and the direction was splendid (a benchmark in sub film history with its claustrophobic sense and close direction). I felt really sorry for the characters, especially for the Nuclear Reactor Officer. The Kirov Orchestra pulled off one of the greatest soundtracks that I have ever heard (really powerful and striking pieces) and the general Russian feel throughout the film was "Authentic".

    I was truly struck by this film. It sent shivers down my spine. The settings, the story telling, the performances, the direction, the music, the tension, the interaction and chemistry between the characters, the authenticity and best of all the cast truly made this film a "masterpiece". Thank you to one great "American" film director (Kathryn Bigelow) for waking up and seeing the Russians in a different light.

    This movies is certainly a 10/10.
  • Forget the critics, forget about the whiney Russian sailors: this film is worth watching. This just goes to show how idiotic the general viewing public has become. Critics have become nothing but a bunch of "good review" whores who work for commission and free gifts. It just goes to show idiotic they are, embracing schlock like Spider-man but putting down audacity like this film. For shame. With a good cast, excellent tension and Harrison Ford, they still want more action and silly exposition.

    Maybe it is the subject matter, or maybe it's the fact Harrison Ford isn't killing anyone and trying to act sexy, but I cannot understand why anyone would put this film down. I don't think this film is detrimental to the reputations to the Russian sailors, who were portrayed with gusto and bravado not exhibited in most submarine films. Also, the claustrophobic nature of the film must have been difficult to film, considering the close quarters the characters had to work with. Overall, the film probably could have used some fine tuning, but the way it is, it is still quite a film to watch. 7.2/10
  • There is a scene early on in this film that pretty much sums up the risk that the crew of the new submarine of record will be taking. The officers are sitting around enjoying some vodka and one of them brings up the cosmonaut hero Yuri Gagarin. He offers the rumor that Gagarin was not in fact the first man sent into space. He was simply the first guy who made it back alive. And the crew of this brand new nuclear sub will face similar danger as their hastily prepared vessel will be pushed to the limit in order to impress both the politburo, and make the Americans take note of its existence. The boat has not even left the dock before it has claimed a handful of lives, most notably the ship's doctor who is hit by a truck just before departure. The top nuclear engineer on board is also hastily replaced when he is discovered drunk on duty. And of course, the champagne bottle doesn't break during the dedication ceremony on the first hit. This is a uniformly bad omen in anyone's navy! K-19 stars two wonderful actors in Harrison Ford, and Liam Neeson. Neeson plays the boat's original captain who strongly objects to how hastily the new vessel was thrown together. Ford, who has higher political connections is put in charge of the K-19 with Neeson being demoted to executive officer. Both men are stubborn, be generally respectful to one another. Trouble is, as the film later points out, a ship can only have ONE captain. One man that the crew looks to and respects. Two such men only create tension. Once the boat leaves port, things generally go pretty well. Despite a leak or two, the boat initially holds together. Ford orders a very deep descent, and of course we are treated to one of those scenes which every submarine movie has where the entire crew looks on nervously as the boat may or may not implode under pressure. Anyway, it holds up. The K-19 then breaks through a patch of ice and has a successful test firing of a missile. Everything looks like it is going great. The crew even stops to pose for a happy picture atop the ice after a game of soccer. Of course, things begin to fall apart from there on.

    First off, the nuclear reactor pretty much goes kaput. Radiation levels rise rapidly, and for a while it looks like the whole sub might explode. Making things even more drastic is the presence of an American destroyer ship that would theoretically be taken out if the sub went nuclear. Tensions between the two nations were never really much higher than they were back then, so this may have been a real possibility. Once things start going badly, the tensions between Ford and Neeson begin to magnify. A mutiny is even attempted by those loyal to Neeson. Worst of all, the attempt to fix the reactor takes the lives of a handful of the crew in a particularly gruesome fashion. The film becomes more tense as things keep getting more and more dangerous for all involved. The conclusion is somewhat logical, but it might seem a little contrived. The entire movie is loosely based on real events, but the film has too many clichés for it to really be taken too seriously. Since there is no outright warfare going on here, the script has to pretty much recycle just about every tense moment from every other submarine movie not actually involving live combat.

    The acting is good, but Harrison Ford is a bit tough to swallow as a Russian. His accent needs a little work, but other than that his performance was as good as he could have done for such a part. Neeson is terrific as usual. Peter Sarsgaard also shows great promise in this early effort of his. Hats off to director Kathryn Bigelow for using the claustrophobic environment of the submarine to her advantage. It must have been a difficult shoot, but she makes it work as well as you could hope. The film lost a small fortune at the box office for whatever reason. Maybe the absence of an American lead character was too much to overcome. Anyway, it is a shame that more people have yet to see this very good film. 7 of 10 stars.

    The Hound.
  • kuriv24 February 2003
    K-19 is perfect truly movie about Russian submarines. I can't find any mistakes in plot - all things is correct! May be it's funny, but K-19 is best patriotic movie for Russians which was made by Americans! Thank you, Harrison Ford and all, who made this movie! 9/10 (sorry for my English...)
  • mozu5 August 2003
    This film reminded me more of "Glory" than of "Hunt for Red October" or "Das Boot." The men sacrificed themselves not for The State or some ideology, but for each other, their fellow men & their leader. You know, most of us can't change the world. In a million years, whatever we do won't make a bit of difference anyway. It's the small things--one person, one moment, one action--that really count. That's what this story said to me. Besides it's more exciting than all the shooting, car crashing, exploding movies out there.
  • I am one of those people who rolls their eyes at war and submarine films. For some reason, I find the claustrophobic atmosphere irritating and often bore of them in any case.

    But this was gripping. Most of the drama actually takes place on the submarine rather than annoyingly cutting between onboard the submarine and the outside world the whole way through the film.

    The acting was surprisingly good. In fact, exceptional, even though anyone could point flaws in the Russian accents. The drama was intense and overall, the film was gripping and easy to follow. The story unfolded, avoiding the temptation to overplay irrelevant aspects of the story. It's unfortunate that it was a box office bomb, but I think a great deal of that had to do with some unnecessary "show off" special effects, when the film ultimately hit its heights and greatness in the last 45 minutes, where a basic set and some good lighting is all that was needed.

    If I had one complaint, it would be that the early stages could have been shortened because the film makers seemed hell-bent on trying to build a sense of intense camaraderie within the ship's crew, but somehow the dialogue and early events didn't quite do it correctly. Or perhaps it wasn't so necessary to harp on about so much. Nonetheless, it was a great watch and I was pleasantly surprised, even if you don't like movies of this genre.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spoilers ahead, mate! Turn your course ninety degrees north or you'll run aground on Spoiler Island!

    The opening says, `Inspired by actual events,' which basically means that there really was a Hotel-class sub called K-19 that had reactor trouble. That's about as close as the movie gets to the real events. Everything else, even the names of the participants, has been changed to serve the story.

    But it's a good story, with interesting people, conflict over important things, and jaw-hurting tension. Captain Vostrikov and XO Polenin are excellently portrayed by Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson (and their accents aren't as bad as all that; aside from varying in intensity they were decent enough). Vostrikov really is a bad and irresponsible commander; every criticism that Polenin levels at him is true. That makes Polenin's actions in supporting him all the more interesting. But Vostrikov does learn from Polenin's example.

    The heart of the movie is the reactor near-meltdown, and the terrible consequences it has. Military movies all too often portray courage as simply risking one's life to kill other people. But what you see in this movie is REAL courage: I'd rather go into battle ten times than do what the reactor techs have to do in this movie. Bigelow's portrayal of the chief reactor officer's breakdown is a touch of genius; it shows us what the people who did go into the reactor chamber felt, and overcame, and what the reactor officer himself overcomes later in the movie. This movie should never have been marketed as a blockbuster; it works best as a simple and touching tale of heroism.

    Regrettably, Bigelow felt she had to cheat to keep the audience's interest, specifically by selling us the preposterous story that the reactor meltdown could have caused a 1.4 megaton nuclear explosion. This changes the story from one that merely didn't happen, into one that could not possibly have ever happened. Nuclear reactors cannot cause nuclear explosions, because they don't use weapons-grade uranium. Even if they did, it would require explosives, not just heat, to crush the uranium to a sufficiently supercritical density to detonate it.

    Why did Bigelow resort to this? Did she believe that a Western-world audience wouldn't care about the fate of mere Russkies, so that she needed to pretend that the fate of the whole world depended on K-19 to keep her viewers watching? If so, she lacked confidence in the story she told. I was, and am, a partisan of the West in the Cold War, and am glad that the West emerged victorious, but neither am I inclined to blame these Soviet Navy sailors for the evils of the tyrannical system that they were born into. I would have enjoyed the movie every bit as much had Bigelow admitted that the sailors were fighting only for their own lives and the lives of their fellow crewmen. And for those chauvinists who would see these sailors as less than human for being Russian, pretending that they saved the world doesn't help.

    Rating: *** out of ****.

    Recommendation: See it in the theater, and bring your suspension of disbelief along; it needs a workout.
  • DarthBill27 April 2004
    In an attempt to break from his usual sympathetic every man bit, Ford plays a blunt, powerful, hard working Russian Naval officer who is given command of a nuclear powered sub from its well liked, almost fatherly captain played by Liam Neeson. Harrison and Liam clash as only two strong willed alpha males can when they take the sub out for a spin and fight to keep it from blowing up and causing a world wide tragedy.

    Based on a true story.

    Ford and Neeson give solid performances to this long, murky, cold, and ultimately detached action drama that proved to be one of 2002's lesser box office endeavors. As stated before, the film suffers from a feeling of disconnection, even as numbers of brave men are sent into the nuclear reactor with improper protection ("They might as well be wearing rain coats!")

    Could have been better, and it could have been a lot worse. Rent and judge for yourself. Probably mostly for fans of Ford and Neeson.
  • guzzl735 August 2002
    A wonderful movie to watch. Definitely the best I've seen this year. The fact that this movie is based on a true story, adds that much more emotion and drama to an otherwise simple story. The world's best nuclear submarine, on a mission, develops internal problems with its reactor. The drama is so intense, you'll find yourself emotionally involved with the characters in the movie. Good direction too.

    On the whole, a must see.
  • It is very easy to be disappointed by this film if one enters the theatre expecting an action thriller based on true events which occurred during the cold war. This is not what this movie is about.... if that is what you are looking for, rent Hunt for Red October.

    The cold war is at its height. To maintain their side of the power equation, the Soviets launch their first nuclear submarine..... an imperfect, untested, hastily put together submersible, seemingly ignorant of the potential for atomic disaster inherent in the simplistic layoutof the ship and its reactor, devoid of protective redundancies. In addition, the ship was woefully ill equipped: manuals were missing, radioactive protective gear was not provided, the chief nuclear staffer fresh out of school with no experience whatever. The Cold War logic which made the USSR send such an unprepared weapon to sea,(or for that matter which fueled America's own tragedy by making it send "advisors" to Vietnam around this time) provides the underpinnings upon which this tale is told and upon which decisions in its narrative are taken. It is a tale of heroism and camaraderie, loyalty and patriotism. Much is sacrificed in the service of an ideology we know was false and now know was destined to fail. The message, if there is one, is that ultimate virtues are not as important as what you do for your fellow-men in your immediate situation. Heroism is defined as risking one's life for the many, knowing full well that it could result in one's own death, fully aware of the life-plans one would be giving up. Perhaps it is doubly sad when such knowing heroes are young. There are no easily discernible villains in this movie. One can, of course, blame the bureaucratic bigwigs who sent such an unfinished product to sea and at each danger signal refused to acknowledge obvious inadequacies and shortcomings. The Cold War objective was all-commanding. Cold War logic required the Soviets to respond in kind to the perceived threat of American nuclear submarines.

    In the final analysis, this is a very sad movie which in its own circumscribed way evokes the sadness and waste of that whole cold war period. The acting, the mis-en-scene, the music are superb. The interaction between all the characters is peerless. Kudos in particular to Messrs. Ford, Neeson, Camargo, Sasgaard, and Ginty. There seems to be a lot of relative newcomers in smaller roles.... all of them did well and created memorable characters in their brief parts.

    I have found critics reluctant to praise this movie. I think they were disappointed for not seeing what they were expecting, a hang by the edge of your seat thriller, so they blame the director for not making the sort of movie they "figured-out" it was going to be. Such silliness. This is a movie that will be remembered.
  • I cannot express how refreshing it was to see a submarine story told from a Russian perspective. I nearly didn't watch it as I expected the usual American take, which never depicts the Russians in a balanced Light.

    The story is a good one and it's well presented by a decent script. The acting is strong. If I'm honest it was the draw of Liam Neeson and Harrison Ford that persuaded me to watch the film in the first place. These actors in the main roles give worthy performances and do at least attempt the difficult accent. Their characters are multi layered and both of them surprise the viewer by being more complex than we might at first expect. The same is true of the strong ensemble cast. Kathryn Bigolo's direction is excellent and the tension builds at just the right pace, adding to the already intense situation of the claustrophobic setting of the submarine. I even found myself holding my breath at times. I also loved the soundtrack, beautiful, atmospheric and haunting, it complemented the scenes it was used in perfectly. I thoroughly recommend this film. Disregard the moaning Minnie's with their lust for explosive action and give the more subtle action of this praiseworthy film a chance.
  • The movie concerns a Russian atomic sub and the complications caused for a nuclear scape, as many sailors will have to sacrifice themselves to save life of crew members.

    Film runtime is overlong , the flick is slow-moving and a little bit boring . Some minutes are superfluous , it has half hour of excess, however the movie is enough decent and agreeable.

    The yarn is interesting and allegedly based on real deeds. There is suspense , thriller and action, though the scenario is completely set into the claustrophobic submarine.

    Harrison Ford performance as a sub commander is excellent, he hands perfectly the role , Ford has gotten the best character as film producer . Liam Neeson acting as the contender official is first-rate. Facing off between two commanders is likeness to Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin in the film ¨The hunt for Red October¨.

    Kathryn Bigelow direction is good and cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth is atmospheric . Klaus Badelt music is spectacular and adjusted to a thrilling film.

    The movie will appeal to emotions enthusiastic and action lovers. Rating 6,5/10, above average
  • Forget about the accents that the actors use in this film. They don't convince anyone that they're Russian. But the story of a nuclear submarine that suffers a leak in the cooling system is fairly interesting. The sacrifices that these men had to do is pretty riveting and some of the decisions made here are ones that a normal person could not even consider! Harrison Ford seems to be having a good time playing a different type of character for a change. And Liam Neeson is actually not to bad as the captain that Ford replaces.Watching the men volunteer to try and fix the leak while exposing themselves to radiation is pretty horrific stuff and its these scenes that make the film worth while.
  • I'd seen this years ago but enjoyed it way more this time around when I caught it on the History channel. Complete edge of your seat viewing.

    Harrison Ford is still kind of lame with his dubious Russian accent but Liam Neeson is great as the other nuclear sub Captain. We also have Peter Sarsgaard and Kris Holden-Ried as the Geiger-counting Russian sailor.

    The movie starts slowly, but gets progressively more exciting as we follow the USSR's first nuclear submarine, which suffers a malfunction in its nuclear reactor during its maiden voyage in the North Atlantic in 1961 -the height of the cold war.

    The story becomes intense and incredible. With the most memorable scenes being that of the radiation. The scene where the boys are going into the nuclear reactor to fix it gave me goosebumps. The courage it must have taken, especially the second group to go in after they had just seen the first ones return, after only 10 minutes. The state of them blind, puking, burned, essentially melting. Scary stuff and portrayed really well.

    That this is a true story and that it could so easily have escalated into an all out war... of misunderstanding, is mind boggling to me. I was also surprised that this event took place in 1961 because in the great scheme of things that's not so long ago. 07.11
  • its superb....fabtastic.. splendid..breathtaking, what else i can say.... what an film ...!!

    acting wise competition between Harrison ford and Liam Neeson...

    starting to finish breathtaking ....

    put you on edge of seat...

    go and watch it else you'll regret later....

    lifetime acting by both of actors and the crew.... its setting is superb.....

    i wanna watch it again and again again........ again....

    10/10 for movie.. it worth more than that...
  • I absolutely LOVED this movie. May be because I was raised in the Soviet Union and could relate to the historic characters, and could understand the cultural and societal background of the movie. Nevertheless, this is an excellent movie even without considering that stuff. I only made one mistake: chose it to watch on my computer in bed before going to sleep. Needless to say I couldn't fall asleep but in addition to that I got so into this movie that my heart started racing and I felt so bad that I didn't watch the last 30 minutes, I simply couldn't face the tragedy anymore. So I slept (could hardly fall asleep) and watched the remainder the next day (today), in the evening, and I so totally enjoyed it that can't help writing this review (I am not a big review- writer in general).

    Anyway, I would recommend this film to anyone and everyone who loves exciting military dramas, or just enjoys watching good movies. ESPECIALLY with Harrison Ford and Niam Neeson - their acting was superb. Great movie!
  • At first - for some reason - I wasn't sure about Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson playing Soviet submarine captains. The roles didn't really seem to suit them for some reason. However, both pulled off good performances here, in a movie that seemed to offer a realistic portrayal of life on a Soviet sub in the midst of the Cold War (1961 to be precise.) Purportedly based on a real incident that came to light only after the fall of communism in Russia, the movie combines the rivalry between the two captains with the story of a nuclear reactor out of control and about to explode (and also manages to include an interesting look at Soviet perceptions of the United States - a perspective often lacking from most American movies.)

    Perhaps the sheer realism of sub life accounts for what I thought was a general lack of tension for the first 90-100 minutes or so. It must be sheer drudgery for sub crews to go through drill after drill after drill; it's even worse to have to watch them going through drill after drill after drill. At times, the story actually became quite tedious. However, the drama in the last 30 or 40 minutes definitely helped make up for that, and surely - the tedium notwithstanding - the sheer realism of the movie earns it some points.

    This is a good movie. Not the best ever made, certainly, and not even the best submarine movie I've ever seen (I'd rank "U-571" and "Run Silent Run Deep" ahead of it) but still it was worth watching.

    Overall, I'd rank it as a 7/10.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is not the kind of film I would watch again and again, but for entirely different reasons than some posts here : Simply it is too sad, too emotional. In fact, I made great effort to contain my tears during the commemoration at the cemetery.

    This is a great film which deserves much higher rating than this one because not only it shatters the typical American-fabricated stereotyped image of Russians as always the villains, but also proves that Americans film makers as well can produce gripping and suspenseful films without needing to put in an excessive dose of violence as it is the standard practice. No vehicle or building blow ups, no endless rounds of firing, no f.. words. Instead, what we have here are a crew of young and innocent and above all patriotic Russian marines with no hesitation to risk their lives. In fact, so patriotic and prideful of their Russian identity they are that they refuse to accept help from Americans and show this by pulling down their pants to show their bottoms to the US chopper flying nearby the submarine in distress. Unlike their American counterparts who are always portrayed as foul-mouthed, over-confident and arrogant lads, the marines here do look like angels in uniforms.

    Add the remarkable acting of two giants like Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson and you will be served a 140 minutes of epic and tragic events surrounding a first generation nuclear sub in the 1960s.

    Overall, I entirely agree with the poster from Australia. The film gets all the stars from me. Last, a little question; and forgive me if it sounds too simplistic: I would like to know for sure whether radiation exposure can really cause such a horribly swollen arm and whether people can survive hours after such a long exposure near the core as they seemed to alive when taken aboard the rescue sub.
  • I found this movie to be an excellent. While it is an accurate portrayal of an important historical event, this film deals directly with human nature in the face of catastrophe. It also shows the courage and dignity these men had in the face of a failing vessel due to the ineptitude of the Soviet bureaucracy and the obsessive nature of its captain. The men of K-19 rise to the cause and make the sacrifices necessary to attempt repairs. Though they ultimately fail in the end they saved the world from an event that would have led to a nuclear war at a time when tensions between the US and the USSR were at their worse. This is a well acted film and well directed. I recommend it not only because it is a good story but places the Cold War in proper perspective as a folly of misperception.
  • Big "thank you" to American moviemakers, who make this movie for their own dollars. Our Russian producers and directors now have a good example how they must make films about our army. K-19 closest to the truth than any previous movies ever. Thanks again.
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