K-19: The Widowmaker

"Very Good"

K-19: The Widowmaker Review


K-19: The Widowmaker is based on a true story about a Russian submarine sent to test a nuclear missile at the height of the Cold War. The boat is ill-equipped for its task, and Capitan Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson) loses his command by insisting that the sub won't be ready in time for its scheduled launch. Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) is given control of the ship, and his stern demeanor and commitment to military efficiency soon make him enemies onboard.

He runs the crew through relentless drills, offers little encouragement, and seems to take unnecessary chances. We soon learn that Polenin -- who remains aboard the sub -- is a father figure to the sailors, while Vostrikov aims to inspire fear. These opposing command styles lead to power clashes throughout the movie, a la Crimson Tide.

After testing the missile, the crew is ordered to sneak past NATO bases and assume a patrol along the eastern coast of the United States. Along the way, mechanical problems threaten to launch a chain of events that would ignite the boat's radioactive cargo. A nuclear explosion so near NATO bases would invite international conflict between the superpowers, but there's no way to fix the problem without jeopardizing the entire crew. The command structure and the sailors' lives are threatened as the captains try to prevent World War III.

The biggest obstacle in a war film is often giving the audience enough information about a swarm of soldiers to make you care when one of them is hurt. The screenwriter gives the characters sufficient depth and tweaks the familiar war movie characters -- green enlistee, world-weary buddy, surly commander with a heart of gold -- just enough to make them worthwhile. Not surprisingly, Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson have good chemistry, though it is jarring to hear an affected Russian accent on the steadfast American Ford.

The submarine, as usual, is a strong backdrop for suspense. The setting is so pregnant with imminent bad luck that the audience is on edge well before things get going. Director Kathryn Bigelow plays up the sense of foreboding with fantastic cross-section shots of the ship that show you exactly how close the sailors are to potential disaster.

My only real complaint is that the movie is too long, especially in its indulgent conclusion. After nearly two and a half hours, I was more than ready to leave. If Bigelow had simply produced a solid action flick and left behind aspirations to drama, it would have clipped along nicely. Still, it's a satisfying summer blockbuster and worth a look.

On DVD, K-19 proves itself a real showpiece for those interested in Soviet history. In addition to a commentary, there are tons of documentaries about the making of the film, including numerous behind-the-scenes and before-the-production shots of the movie, including numerous research trips to Russia. Intriguing if you're an aficionado.

All together now... PUSH!



K-19: The Widowmaker

Facts and Figures

Run time: 138 mins

In Theaters: Friday 19th July 2002

Box Office USA: $35.1M

Box Office Worldwide: $35.2M

Budget: $90M

Distributed by: Paramount Pictures

Production compaines: First Light Production, Intermedia Films, National Geographic Society, New Regency Pictures, Palomar Pictures (II)

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 60%
Fresh: 101 Rotten: 67

IMDB: 6.6 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Alexei Vostrikov, as Mikhail Polenin, as Vadim Radtchinko, as Marshal Zelentsov, as Admiral Bratyeev, as Dr. Savran, as Partonov, as Demichev, George Anton as Konstantin, as Anatoly, as Kornilov, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson as Gorelov, as Dmitri, as Vasily, Peter Stebbings as Kuryshev, as Lapinsh, as Leonid, as Sergei, as Kiklidze, as Maxim, Peter Graham as Danya Yashin, Shawn Mathieson as Stepan, as Grigori, Christopher Routh as Oleg, Lubomir Mykytiuk as Dr. Gavril, as Yevgeny Borzenkov, as Pavel, Ravil Isyanov as Suslov, as Anton

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.