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The Hunt For Red October(1990)
Russia's newest Typhoon-class nuclear missile submarine Red October, equipped with a silent propulsion system, sets sail from Murmansk. At the same time a mysterious letter is sent from Red October's captain, Marko Ramius, to the chief political officer of the Soviet Navy. Shortly after almost the entire Soviet fleet in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean sets out for the Atlantic Ocean with the mission to hunt down and destroy the Red October. CIA-analyst Jack Ryan believes that Ramius is trying to defect to the West. The Pentagon and White House generals do not believe in his idea. They believe Soviet's story, that Ramius is a madman and that he will launch his nuclear missiles at the United States. A race between NATO and the Soviet Union begins. Who will find the Red October first? In the middle of all this Ryan is trying to get to Ramius and help him.
For more about The Hunt For Red October and the The Hunt For Red October Blu-ray release, see the The Hunt For Red October Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 24, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Sam Neill, Joss Ackland
Director: John McTiernan
» See full cast & crew
The Hunt For Red October Blu-ray Review
A "Red October" means less "green" in July.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 24, 2008
When I was 12, I helped my daddy build a bomb shelter in our basement because some fool parked a dozen warheads 90 miles off the coast of Florida. This thing could park a couple of hundred warheads off of Washington and New York and no one would know anything about it until it was all over.
As one of the more popular authors of the past few decades, Tom Clancy's novels have captivated readers everywhere with their thrilling story lines and impeccable descriptions of military hardware and strategy and ingrained into our culture the name Jack Ryan, a hero in every sense of the word, a man of superior intellect and gifted with the aptitude and wherewithal to face even the most grueling of physical tests. The transition to film of such an approachable, likable, All-American character was inevitable, and Paramount gobbled up the rights to one of Clancy's most popular works, The Hunt For Red October, as the showcase for the character's big-screen debut. Although several actors have portrayed the famed character, beginning here with Alec Baldwin (Beetlejuice) and followed by Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger) and Ben Affleck (The Sum of All Fears), Baldwin's portrayal remains the superior one, in large part because The Hunt For Red October represents the best of the Clancy quartet to so far make it to the silver screen. A true classic and one of the finest films of the 1990s, The Hunt For Red October is the zenith of the "thinking man's action movie" sub-genre.
It is designed to approach by stealth and to shower its target with multiple independent warheads with little to no warning before impact.
Such is the description provided by Jack Ryan to the U.S. National Security Advisor during a briefing on the new Soviet submarine Red October, captained by the legendary Marko Ramius (Sean Connery, Dr. No). Labeled as a possible first-strike weapon, concerns arise not only based on the potency and large-scale lethality of the weapons aboard the Red October, but also on her "Caterpillar" drive system -- a revolutionary propulsion system that allows the ship to sail virtually silent and undetected by sonar. The vessel sailed the very same morning that U.S. intelligence first learned of the ship, and CIA analyst Jack Ryan, with the assistance of Vice-Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones, Coming To America) and former sub driver Skip Tyler (Jeffrey Jones, Sleepy Hollow), was the first to learn of the sub's capabilities. Based on his knowledge of Ramius' military prowess and private life, Ryan deduces that Ramius may not intend to strike the United States. Rather, Ryan believes Ramius' intention is to defect, although the Soviet government has informed the United States that Ramius is a rogue planning on launching his missiles off the U.S. Eastern seaboard. With the entire Soviet fleet bearing down on the famed Soviet Captain, Ryan must convince his superiors of his belief and reach Ramius, one way or another, before he and his submarine are destroyed -- or Ramius proves Ryan wrong and devastates the United States with "missile drills."
I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.
Known for directing arguably the two finest action films from the 1980s -- Die Hard and Predator -- director John McTiernan began the final decade of the 20th century with another film destined for classic status, The Hunt For Red October. A departure from the style of his previous work to be sure, October dazzled audiences with unparalleled suspense, drama, and action. Unlike Die Hard and Predator -- two bloody, vulgarity-ridden pictures with relentless violence and clear-cut villains -- October is a PG-rated, family-friendly film with no one single "bad guy" that is prominently featured throughout the film. A maniacal, determined Soviet sub captain in pursuit of the Red October, Viktor Tupolev (Stellan Skarsgård, Beowulf & Grendel) and the specter of a KGB saboteur amidst the crew of the Red October is as close as the film comes to villainy, and these characters and ideas receive only limited screen time, but drive the plot along to a certain extent. Indeed, perhaps the single most powerful and palpable enemy in October is time itself. Will Ryan convince his peers that his gut instinct regarding Ramius' intentions is correct, and if so, will he reach the Soviet captain in time? McTiernan skillfully engenders unbearable tension and intrigue into the film, all without a single, clear enemy to root against. Perhaps more so than his classic 1980s action vehicles, McTienrnan demonstrates in The Hunt For Red October his undeniable talent as a superb filmmaker.
The Hunt For Red October is also aided by its stellar cast of lead and supporting characters. Generally such a fine cast is assembled for the most epic of productions, such as How the West Was Won, A Bridge Too Far, and Lonesome Dove. October may represent the pinnacle of action-movie casting in the 1990s, featuring a plethora of standouts from several generations, including Baldwin, Connery, Jones (James Earl and Jeffery), Skarsgård, Scott Glenn (Training Day), Sam Neil (Jurassic Park), Courtney Vance (Space Cowboys), Tim Curry, (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Joss Ackland (Lethal Weapon 2), Peter Firth (Pearl Harbor), and former U.S. Presidential candidate Fred Dalton Thompson (Die Hard 2: Die Harder). Each actor brings an unmatched presence to their respective roles and is convincing and genuine, engendering a steady, respectable edge about the film, and they flesh out the fantastic story and compliment McTiernan's fantastic, well-paced direction, Basil Poledouris' (Starship Troopers) first-rate score, and Jan de Bont's (director of Speed) memorable cinematography.
The Hunt For Red October Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Hunt For Red October sets sail on Blu-ray with a 1080p, 2.35:1 framed transfer. This is not the kind of transfer that will wow audiences the same way I, Robot and Saawariya did some months ago. If you are familiar with John McTiernan's work, particularly Predator, you know that grain plays an important role in the look of some of his films, and a heavy amount of grain is visible on this transfer, too. The film is a rather dark one that takes place in dimly lit interiors, both in and out of submarines, with no dazzling use of colors, and the look is true to the source. Still, colors are a bit more eye-popping than I have seen them before, even if they are generally dull as a rule. When the "Pavarotti" story is being told early in the film, the colors on the buttons next to the storyteller are brighter and more vibrant than I've ever noticed them before. Likewise, the various colored adornments on uniforms -- particularly gold -- stand out as better defined and clear than in previous editions. The print shows some black speckles, pops, and debris, along with a few vertical black lines here and there. Mostly thanks to the original look of the picture, detail level is only moderate. Likewise, definition and clarity don't necessarily impress. The scene where Ryan gives a briefing on the Red October in chapter four is one spot where this is evident. The image is soft, somewhat lacking in depth and clarity, and not highly detailed in either the foreground or the background. It still looks fine, far better than any other edition of the film I've seen at home (this is the fifth edition I've owned -- once on VHS, once on LaserDisc, and twice on DVD). The few daylight, well-lit scenes, such as when Ryan leaves the Enterprise in chapter eight, look wonderful, with solid colors, great detail, and a crystal clear image. Skin tones are non-problematic, as are black levels. There is one oddity of note. At the beginning of chapter seven, there are blue lines at the top and bottom of the frame that do not appear on my DTS-DVD copy. All said and done, this is a very true-to-the-source image that is superior to the latest DVD copy I own, but audience expectations need to be set appropriately to enjoy the look this film has to offer in high definition.
The Hunt For Red October Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Hunt For Red October submerges listeners with a solid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless surround soundtrack. One area where The Hunt For Red October excels is in bringing some fantastic choral music to the presentation that, oftentimes, better suits the mood of the film in lieu of a more traditional score. These pleasing and exciting choral pieces heard throughout the film sound better than ever in lossless audio, filling the entirety of the listening area with sonic delight. Underwater sequences are also well-reproduced. The sound of the submarine moving underwater from rear to front in chapter one offers fine panning and sonic clarity. The first time we are taken inside the Red October in chapter two, we quickly feel like a member of the crew as a robust use of the entire soundstage perfectly recreates the sound of a bustling ship. Voices, footsteps on the deck, and other sounds flow from every speaker, all distinctly and clearly. While in the submarines, the constant hum of the engine is heard all around us, truly placing us inside these most deadly of weapons. Likewise, when Ryan arrives at the ship yard in chapter three, we are instantly transported there thanks to the engulfing sound of work, machinery, and voices that immerse the soundstage and turn your living room into a bustling, busy work area. When Jack's plane lands on the Enterprise in chapter five, we can feel the impact of the landing gear on the flight deck. Gunshots ring out with fine volume and clarity, and the impacts and ricochets on various items on the Red October that "don't react well to bullets" react well with your sound system; the effect fills every speaker with action and excitement. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and precise. Once you listen to The Hunt For Red October in lossless audio, you'll never go back to your obsolete DVD edition ever again.
The Hunt For Red October Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Hunt For Red October surfaces on Blu-ray with a rather small and uninspiring supplemental package that offers the same extras as found on the "Special Collector's Edition" DVD of several years back. A feature-length commentary with director John McTiernan is first. His is a rather dry commentary that provides solid information but drags on and is plagued by long stretches of silence. This one is skippable. Beneath the Surface (480p, 29:00) is a solid feature and the best on the disc. The program begins with the origins of the film, going back to the optioning of the book by Mace Neufeld and moving onto the difficulty of transitioning such an in-depth novel to the screen, searching for the right actor to play Jack Ryan and others, and moving on to the difficulty of shooting particular scenes in the movie, among other things. Finally, the film's theatrical trailer (1080p, 1:41) concludes this all-too-short supplemental package.
The Hunt For Red October Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Hunt For Red October is the best of the Jack Ryan films, and a classic in its own right. With arguably the best performance of Alec Baldwin's career, one of the better efforts from Sean Connery, and an all-star cast performing under the rock-solid direction of John McTiernan, The Hunt For Red October is a seminal submarine movie and one of the finer films to come out of the 1990s. The movie holds up remarkably well to repeat viewings, and is as exciting today as it was in 1990. Paramount brings this wonderful film to Blu-ray with a fine video and audio transfer but, like its predecessor on DVD, fails to impress with a substandard supplemental package. Nevertheless, fans of the movie will want to upgrade for the improved picture and sound quality found on the disc. Recommended.
The Hunt for Red October: Other Editions
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