Film Review: ‘Hunter Killer’

Variety | 10/26/2018 | Owen Gleiberman
Click For Photo: https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/hk_03117.jpg?w=700&h=393&crop=1

It’s no trick for even a ham-handed global action thriller to achieve a ripped-from-the-headlines “topicality.” Just throw in a terrorist from the right enemy nation, or an American president with the right haircut. So it’s a weird and musty Twilight Zone indeed that one enters to watch “Hunter Killer,” a grindingly ponderous and bombastic neo-Cold War submarine thriller — how ponderous is it? It stars Gerard Butler, and he’s the most lighthearted thing about it — that in every relevant detail seems three years, if not two decades, behind the times.

Consider its take on the U.S. president. The character, played by Caroline Goodall, is transparently modeled on Hillary Clinton. As a result, one watches her scenes utterly removed from the drama (I use the term loosely) and preoccupied, instead, with thoughts like, “Was this film really shot that long ago?” It was. Principal photography on “Hunter Killer” began in July 2016, and the producers clearly based their script on the presumption that a certain Democratic candidate would end up as “Madame President.” Arriving in the thick of the madness of the Trump era, however, the film, intentionally or not, seems to say, “Who cares if she didn’t win? Even reality won’t make us budge.”

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The movie’s version of the Russian leadership is, if anything, even more jarringly out-of-date. “Hunter Killer,” which is named for its lead submarine, is about an underwater face-off between the U.S. and Russia, but the plot hinges on an attempted coup. The Russian leader, President Zakarin (Alexander Dianchenko), is no autocratic Putin figure but a decent diplomatic dude who seems to have graduated from the Gorbachev school of constructive engagement. He’s taken down in a military sabotage led by Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy), the runt-bully Minister of Defense, who comes off as sort of…Soviet. He’s like...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Variety
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