Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Movie Review: Hunter Killer

Hunter Killer ** / *****
Directed by: Donovan Marsh.
Written by: Arne Schmidt and Jamie Moss based on the novel by George Wallace and Don Keith.
Starring: Gerard Butler (Captain Joe Glass), Gary Oldman (CJCS Charles Donnegan), Common (RA John Fisk), Linda Cardellini (Jayne Norquist), Alexander Diachenko (President Zakarin), Michael Gor (Admiral Dmitri Durov), Michael Nyqvist (Captain Andropov),Carter MacIntyre (XO Brian Edwards), Shane Taylor (TMC Turner), Kola Bokinni (McCaw), Mikey Collins (Brickowski), Will Attenborough (Kaplan), Kieron Bimpson (Nichols), David Gyasi (Cob Wallach), Michael Jibson (Reed), Christopher Goh (Park), Sarah Middleton (Liddy), Taylor John Smith  (Belford), Gabriel Chavarria (Jimenez), Toby Stephens (Bill Beaman), Michael Trucco (Devin Hall), Ryan McPartlin (Matt Johnstone), Zane Holtz (Paul Martinelli), Caroline Goodall (President Dover).
Hunter Killer is an action movie where essentially the Americans and the Russians have to work together to prevent WWIII from breaking out when the Russian Defense Minister goes rogue, kidnaps the Russian President, and starts a deadly game under the ice by first sabotaging a Russian sub to make it look like the Americans attacked, and then torpedoing an American sub to ensure an all-out war. In order to prevent this, American sends in a stealth sub, captained by Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) and a team of four highly trained marines in order to re-kidnap the Russian President, so he can stop the war. In order to do this, Glass rescues a Russian sub captain from that downed boat (Michael Nyqvist) to help him navigate through the dangerous Russian waters.
So yes, this is a movie in which the Americans and the Russians work together – and it’s been made at a time where in real life, the American President is under investigation for colluding with the Russians to win an election, and who has been constantly criticized for going too easy on Putin and Russia. And yet, Hunter Killer doesn’t really have anything at all to say about geopolitics – you cannot really criticize its politics, no matter what your thoughts on Russia are, because the film has no politics to speak of. It is more interested in once again watching Gerard Butler being stoic and emotionless, because of course, that’s how real men are. And he is a real man – someone who became a captain on a Nuclear submarine by working his way up through the ranks – not one of those guys who got there by going to Annapolis. He’s a manly man – and everyone else in the movie is a manly man as well – except for Linda Cardellini, who plays a NSA adviser, although for all I know she was written as a man and they decided to cast a woman instead so the entire cast wasn’t men (the same can be said for the only other two female characters in the movie – a Communications operator on the sub, and the President of the USA, who furrows her brow before saying her couple of lines at the midpoint of the movie.
The problem with Hunter Killer lays somewhere in there – not because I need a cheesy action movie on board a submarine to reflect my politics, or the men involved to be more in touch with their emotions, or anything like that – but because this movie tries to be as bland and down the middle as possible, robbing the film of any real personality. Butler isn’t the actor you cast for personality anyway – his career seems to be made up of movies Jason Statham was too busy to do, and other than Den of Thieves – in which he tries to be the bad guy – most of his recent work has him looking constipated – emotionally and physically – betraying no emotion, no personality, no anything really. At least the team of four Marines, who head in by land, have a kind of personality – yes, it the annoying “bro” personality that these films are filled with, but it’s something. The actors on land don’t have much to work with either – not the talented Cardellini, who I always like, but here doesn’t do much, no Common, who really should play a character who isn’t so outwardly good all the time (the best moment of his acting career is probably in the recent The Hate U Give, where he plays a cop who admits, with shame, that he’d treat a white suspect different than a black suspect), not even Gary Oldman, who has his Oscar now, so he can go back to doing this sort of supporting turn where he does nothing except yell at everyone around him.
But even with all of that, I don’t think I can really call Hunter Killer a bad movie – it doesn’t even have enough personality to warrant being called truly bad. It’s just kind of there – and seems to be tailored made for Sunday afternoon showings on TBS, where you half watch as your folder laundry, or drift in and out of a nap. If you watch it that way, don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything when you dozed off.

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