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Crimson Tide

Starring: Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman
Director: Tony Scott
Genre: Action
Year: 1995
Rating: 4 / 5

Crimson Tide is filled with military inaccuracies? Crimson Tide paints Russia - the stereotypical "bad guy" in Hollywood films for decades - as the reckless, volatile opponent? Both of these statements may be true, but that does not change the fact that Crimson Tide is two hours worth of tense thrills and unforgettable confrontations. Co-stars Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman are both at the top of their game, and their characters, as well as the film's setting aboard a nuclear submarine, propel this Tony Scott action thriller. Set in the modern era, Crimson Tide even delivers a very profound message about the realities of war in the world in which we live.

Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Denzel Washington) is a naval officer drafted by Captain Frank Ramsey (Gene Hackman) to be the first officer aboard his submarine, the USS Alabama. A splinter group within Russia has recently rebelled, rallying behind a charismatic new leader and making threats about Russian sovereignty. A portion of the Russian military has defected to join this new leader's cause, and the group has quickly seized some nuclear missile silos. The Alabama is to set sail into the Pacific and to wait there for further instructions. Captain Ramsey's crew may be called upon to retaliate against Russian aggression, or the crew may even be asked to launch a preemptive nuclear strike.

As the American boat drifts closer and closer towards the Asian mainland, tensions rise, especially when the Alabama encounters a Russian AKULA-class submarine. About this time, Captain Ramsey receives an Emergency Action Message (EAM) from the United States, letting him know that, in the absence of contravening orders, he is to launch his missiles at Russia. After an evasive dive takes the crew out of communications range, Hunter insists that the Alabama use any means necessary to confirm this message. After all, as he points out rather succinctly, the price of an error is a toll no one wishes to pay. It is over this issue and proper military protocol in a nuclear situation that these two iron-willed combatants clash. Who is right, or are they both right? The fate of the world may hang in the balance.

Director Tony Scott (Top Gun) wastes no time getting the viewer involved in the action of Crimson Tide, opening the film with a sequence detailing the rising unrest in the Russia. He also manages to paint each of his two lead actors as heroic figures, with neither one necessarily more right than the other. Gene Hackman plays an "old school" submarine commander, one who leads by the book and who takes a hard-nose approach to everything he does. Denzel Washington plays a Harvard-educated officer, equally tough-minded but willing to question the rationale behind his orders rather than simply obeying. Both actors shine in this film, but they are well served by the likes of George Dzundza, Viggo Mortensen, and Matt Craven. Crimson Tide is riveting, heart-pounding, and full of intense scenes that will leave the viewer tingling long after the film's thrilling conclusion.


Denzel Washington..........Lt. Cmdr. Ron Hunter
Gene Hackman..........Capt. Frank Ramsey
Viggo Mortensen..........Lt. Peter Ince
George Dzundza..........C.O.B.
Matt Craven..........Lt. Roy Zimmer

Certification: Rated R for language.
Running Time: 116 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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