Reviewed by: Dave T.Chew
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.