Hunt for Red October, The (1990)

The Hunt for Red October (1990), directed by John McTiernan.

The US Civil War has long been called the "American Iliad": a titanic, multi-faceted, all-encompassing existential struggle -- with opportunities for literary treatment. As time passes, the Cold War with the Soviet Union has gained some of the same mythic stature: all those decades of nukes and spies, political turmoil -- and the novels and movies that came out of it.

You hear it in spy spoofs: "I miss the Cold War".

This is the first Tom Clancy film adaptation and the first Jack Ryan movie. In retrospect the characters and dialogue can seem a bit cute, but I think it gets the tone of the book right. Clancy was a natural for screenplay treatment, writing short segments and quickly cycling through all of his plot-lines, which is what you need in action thrillers.

We get our money's worth: when the film seems to be over we have whole other act with the attack sub and saboteur.


Basil Poledouris score. Like all Russian naval stories it features a great men's chorus.

Available on Blu-ray.