Prayer Focus
Movie Review

K-19: The Widowmaker

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for disturbing images

Reviewed by: Dave T.Chew

Better than Average
Add to your list?
View your list
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Thriller / Drama
2 hr. 20 min.
Year of Release:
Harrison Ford in K-19: The Widowmaker The crew of K-19

Starring: Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, Joss Ackland, J.J. Field, Lex Shrapnel | Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow | Produced by: Joni Sighvatsson, Christine Whitaker, Kathryn Bigelow, Edward S Feldman | Written by: Christopher Kyle, Louis Nowra, William Broyles Jr, Chris Kyle | Distributor: Paramount Pictures

For those who enjoy the drama of the submariner’s world, K-19: The Widowmaker is one to be sure not to miss. The story is based on the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Russian submarine K-19, launched to sea on June 18th, 1961.

Because of pressure from the Soviet general staff, the sub was rushed out of harbor before all the equipment had been properly installed. Safety was of little concern due to time constraints, and so when new skipper, Captain Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) is appointed to K-19 at the behest of senior military figures in the Kremlin, he and his crew run into some deadly problems. Among Vostrikov’s crew is Capt. Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson), who had been serving as temporary captain but cheerfully accepts his new senior officer.

Captain Vostrikov rushes the new submarine crew through the last two weeks of loading and installation. Signs of potential problems quickly begin to appear including two gory accidents in the torpedo bay. K-19 heads out towards the Barents Sea to test fire a missile. From this point on, the viewer is caught up in a rising flood of tension and drama leading to the climax involving the U.S. Navy.

Loosely based on the real incident, K-19: The Widowmaker displays great acting from Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson and the supporting male cast. The language in general is clean and vulgarity is kept to a very acceptable minimum (apart from one incident when members of K-19’s crew “moon” the crew of an American naval helicopter).

As a Christian, I am saddened but not surprised to note that the only “faith” element in the film is when one of the submarine’s reactor crew is gently admonished for clutching a small crucifix. God is mentioned once in a moment of extreme crisis in a moderately reverent context. However, the negative elements in this movie are few. For those who enjoy a somewhat technical approach to a life beneath the waves, “The Widowmaker” is an enjoyable and exciting film.

Viewer Comments
Comments below:
Positive—I went to see this film with my husband on one of our few child-free evenings out. It was so refreshing to see a thought-provoking film for adults that had so little offensive material (i.e. nudity or profanity). As I am not usually a fan of “war” movies, I was surprised how deeply I was involved and moved by the story. Harrison Ford delivers an excellent performance, much better than some of his more recent roles. Liam Neeson is also excellent as is the rest of the supporting cast. While the scenes dealing with the radiation sickness were hard to watch, it only highlighted the bravery of the men who stepped up to the plate to try to save the crew and prevent a worldwide nuclear war. I didn’t have any trouble relating to this Russian crew—this could have just as easily happened in the United States. Overall, an excellent choice!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
—Lis, age 30
Positive—Better than I expected. The story doesn’t contain that much, but the fine acting and drama more than compensate. Another film that leaves one thankful they never had to live under Soviet communism.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—Todd Adams, age 34
PositiveHarrison Ford and Liam Neeson did an excellent job acting in this one. This was a good story of courage and loyalty. I liked the way this movie showed the faith in God that the men had.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—John Traylor, age 37
Positive—Excellent “Sub” film with plenty of suspense and a level or realism rarely seen in typical “action” military movies. Very little objectionable with the exception of the “mooning” scene mentioned. Excellent acting by both of the male leads as well as the supporting cast. Surprisingly the captain mentions God in a positive light during one tense scene. I recommend this for adults and mature teens.
My Ratings: [Good / 4]
—Larry Kramer, age 43
Positive—K-19 was a decent film for what was depicted. Hollywood seems to be producing recent movies honoring Soviet communists, which would normally strike a patriotic American as odd, however, most actors there are ideological communists themselves. Harrison Ford has repeatedly supported our own leftist politicians over and over in word and money. Bear this in mind as you watch the film. In my opinion this story belongs in documentary form on the History channel or PBS rather than the big screen. I don’t recall that any actors left the country (let alone to Russia) when Bush was elected like some said they would. What do ya know about that????
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 3]
—Bob C, age 38
Positive—I think for me I really like the movie… because good acting… and good story… I heard some ladies that they said that this movie is for man. Hey, don’t get me wrong… it gets me think and the world around me… Harrison Ford is good actor.
My Ratings: [Excellent! / 3]
—kathy, age 23
Positive—Having served in the US Submarine service (both nuclear and conventional) from 1963 to 1969 I could readily identify with the movie. In my opinion the movie very accurately depicted submarine life and events as they most likely took place during the disaster. Even though the communist government decried any homage to God, it was clear to me in the movie that some men on the K19 had strong belief in a God and would not give that up.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Richard Rounke, age 57
Positive—Finally! A great, suspenseful, dramatic “wartime” movie without all the bad language! We have read some reviews on this site that indicate the movie has very little swearing, only to see the movie and discover that our definition of “very little” is quite different! However, I can promise that there is an extremely small amount of swear words here… I heard only 3. If you like sub movies, you should definitely not miss this one. There were several interesting camera fadeaways, and most of the camera work inside the sub made you feel very much like you were right there with them (claustrophobes: do not see this movie!). I heartily agree with what another reviewer said about how your view of the Russians changes as the movie goes on. Children 10 and under would probably not be comfortable seeing the scenes of injury, but they are not overdone. The reviewer mentioned that the faith element is very small. That is true, however, these are Communists… it only makes sense. At least they didn’t mock God…
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Rachel, age 24
Positive—I loved this movie! The story was very intriguing and I thought it was very well put together. The directing, writing, and all the technical aspects of the film were excellent. I was very claustrophobic throughout most of the movie! The acting was great. Harrison Ford was brilliant. I loved his character, a very complex man. Liam Neeson was wonderful as well. The two worked together well. All the supporting actors were also topnotch. Morally this movie is excellent. There were maybe two curse words right at the beginning and that was IT!! The sailors in K-19 talk much cleaner than those in other sub movies (e.g. Crimson Tide). There was of course a lot of tension etc. The only other offensiveness I saw was when the Russians moon a U.S. helicopter. I have to admit I found it rather funny but there are a lot of bare behinds shown briefly as well as again briefly during decontamination. There is a lot of bravery, sacrifice and other noble themes in this movie. There are also several reverent references…
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Riley, age 20
Positive—I thought this film was wonderful. It was very well-made, well-acted, and it holds your attention throughout. Some ladies may feel that this is a “guy’s movie,” but it truly isn’t. Anyone and everyone will enjoy this film. You will care about the characters and be on the edge of your seat with suspense wondering “What’s going to happen” in more than a few scenes. I do not recall hearing any uses of God’s name in vain or swear words (rare nowadays). I definitely recommend this film to you all!
My Ratings: [Good / 5]
—Rena, age 36
Movie Critics
…complete lack of foul language… graphic injuries and [a] bare posterior scene… a very acceptable and fascinating film…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…MESSAGE—War is inevitable, it’s just when and who will strike first. Authority can be dead wrong…
Comments from young people
Neutral—I went to “K-19” expecting it to be a bit more exciting. I was kinda disappointed to find out it was not at all entertaining for me… actually it was pretty boring. However, it was mostly clean… only some “mooning” by the Russians at the U.S. helicopter. The plot could be considered interesting because it really happened, but if you’re into action/adventure, I wouldn’t recommend it. I thought it would be the type of movie that my history teacher would make us watch.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Sarah, age 16
Positive—“K-19” was excellent, I saw it and came out surprised at what I saw, I was expecting a lot more violence and blood, but there’s relatively few violent scenes. Viewers should be cautioned that there are some nauseating scenes when people are burned by radiation. This movie really “Puts you there” And I felt like I was actually in a sub for a good portion of the movie. I would recommend taking kids over 10 to see this movie. And best of all, finally a movie with absolutely no profanity, sex, or mockery of our God! Go see it!
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4]
—Aaron Plaat, age 14
Positive—This movie is by far the best submarine movie ever made. Very emotional. Very well made. In the beginning of the movie, the viewer sees the people as Russian, badguys of most movies set in the ’60s. As time progresses, the viewer begins to see the crew as men, and great ones at that. By the end, the viewer has felt so much, that there are no longer any Russians, but only people who have experienced more hardship than most of us will ever face.

The morals in this movie reflect Christian values such as loyalty, bravery, courage, discipline, and perseverance. Definitely worth the money to see it in the theater. Other than the scene in which the Soviets moon the American helicopter, the moral value was better than that in most movies.
My Ratings: [Better than Average / 5]
—Withheld, age 14