Movie review: Saving the world one big bang at a time

2018-11-23 12:36

Hunter Killer

Director: Donovan Marsh

Featuring: Gerard Butler, Common, Toby Stevens and Gary Oldman

South African director Donovan Marsh proves that anything a Hollywood action director can do he can do just as well with this fast-paced genre movie.

Hunter Killer is a submarine movie, wrapped up in a coup, with a special forces rescue on top. Gerard Butler is Captain Joe Glass, an untested submarine captain sent to investigate when another American submarine is torpedoed in the freezing cold sea near a Russian military base. He and his slightly suspicious crew find themselves thrust into a dangerous mystery when they are attacked by a Russian sub too.

Meanwhile, back at mission control Common is directing operations with the national security agency in the form of Linda Cardanelli. They discover that there’s a coup going down with the Russian minister of defence having taken the Russian president prisoner. Enter Toby Stevens’ team of four special forces who go behind enemy lines to rescue the president to prevent World War 3.

With all the pieces in place it is go, go, go as they all race against time to save the world – what else? The cynics among us might wonder if Hollywood’s penchant for these big guns and muscle-bound action men is a lot like propaganda to show the rest of us how important they are in keeping world peace. A desperate counterpoint as their current leader shows off just how low he can go.

However, for the apolitical, you can sit back and enjoy two hours of mindless entertainment – chockful of gratuitous violence, unsurpassed bravery and out of this world determination to get the job done no matter what. You will need to suspend your disbelief at the door.

It is based on a novel by George Wallace and Don Keith titled Firing Point and the title says it all, there really is a lot of firepower in this movie. Butler does what he does best – taking on the reluctant hero role much as he has done many times before in numerous guises from 300 to Olympus Has Fallen to Geostorm. Common looks good doing his thing and I did wonder what Gary Oldman was doing here, filling time as a warmonger who gets very little screen time. It seemed like a waste of a whole Oscar winning actor.

The film is also one of the last to feature Michael Nyqvist before his death last year. The Swedish actor most famously played Mikael Blomkvist from the Millenium Trilogy written by Stieg Larsson.

There’s not a lot of levity in the film, unless you count the the onscreen versions of the two presidents. Alexander Diachenko is the Russian president (the tall and handsome actor couldn’t be further from the reality of Russian’s current leader), while on the American side Caroline Goodall channels Hilary Clinton, though you could argue that her platinum wig might make Donald Trump jealous. I guess they had to go with a Clinton-like leader, because a Trumpian one would have pressed all the red buttons in the first five minutes and the film would have shot its load long before its world-saving climax.

All in all, Hunter Killer is a competent, enjoyable genre film that does our homegrown talent proud. 

Gayle Edmunds
Managing editor
City Press
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August 18 2019