The Hunt for Red October
I’d seen this film before, so the plot was not a surprise. What did surprise me was the size and quality of the cast! Sean Connery as Captain Ramos of the Red October, Alec Baldwin as CIA analyst Jack Ryan, Scott Glen as Captain of the USS Dallas, as well as Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Peter Firth, Tim Curry, Courtney B. Vance, Stellan Skarsgard, Richard Jordan, Joss Ackland, Fred Thompson(before he was a US Senator), Gates Mcfadden(as Alec Baldwin’s wife)… this in an action/thriller made with just a $30 million budget! The 1990’s star power assembled here would easily cost triple that figure today. Reportedly the filmmakers spent $20,000 on Connery’s hairpiece!
The plot clips along and keeps the viewer interested. The vaunted cast performs well although some familiar with the Russian language may take issue with the quality of the pronunciation of the Russian dialogue by of some of the cast. The special effects are effective and convincing enough. All without the aid of any CGI. The underwater effects were done not underwater, but in a darkened room.
The central piece of technology that made the Red October possible was an electrohydrodynamic drive. However, this is not entirely in the realm of science fiction. There are working models that use this “caterpillar” drive; however, they are prototypes and still have multiple issues to contend with before full production can occur. The magnets are too heavy, gas bubbles can occur in the stream which are noisy on sonar, the salinity of the water must be above a certain level(which precludes operation in fresh water), and so on. Still it makes for a fun idea for a movie.
Tom Clancy’s book, also called The Hunt for Red October, was published to no fanfare whatsoever. In fact, it looked to be destined to be relegated to history… when none other than President Reagan commented to reporters how much he enjoyed the book calling it “a perfect yarn.” Suddenly Clancy’s book is a hit, and he is a star. Fast forward a few years and his book is a major blockbuster. There are a handful of truly great submarine films– Run Silent, Run Deep, Das Boot, Crimson Tide–but The Hunt for Red October stands up against any of them. It’s available on Netflix.