Crimson Tide (1995) / Thriller-Action
MPAA Rated: R for strong language
Running Time: 110 min.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Matt Craven, George Dzundza
Director: Tony Scott
Screenplay: Michael Schiffer
Review published January 30, 1998
While I've never been a huge fan of director Tony Scott's (True Romance, Days of Thunder) dark and claustrophobic style, where else would this be a natural fit than on a submarine? Hell, even shot with a camcorder, you really couldn't go too far astray when you have two actors like Denzel Washington (Mo Better Blues, Heart Condition) and Gene Hackman (The Quick and the Dead, The Firm) at the peak of their form.
The plot: Russian rebels have taken over a nuclear missile base in Russia and threaten to strike. A nuclear submarines, the Alabama, is sent out to the area and receive a transmission to launch nukes at the site, the preliminary steps to what will be World War III. While tangling with a Russian sub, they receive another transmission but it was only partially retrieved. Now the clock is ticking to launch the missiles and there is mutiny aboard the Alabama as to whether they should launch or try to retrieve the full transmission in case there is a change of plans.
Crimson Tide couples edge-of-your-seat tension with stellar acting by the leads to add up to one of the best thrillers of the 90s. Washington and Hackman both offer tour-de-force performances, which seems to go to another level when playing off of each other in their shared scenes. The rest of the supporting cast is solid, as are the much overlooked special effects and intricately replicated sets.
Crimson Tide ranks as Tony Scott's best work, and he paces the film at breakneck speed until the ultimate showdown between the Hackman and Washington for command of the vessel. Dynamite entertainment all around.
©1998 Vince Leo