In search of Red October, communication (not firepower) saves the day

Upon its theatrical release in 1990, “The Hunt for Red October” capped a series of stellar action films from director John McTiernan, beginning with “Predator” in 1987 and continuing with “Die Hard” in 1988. All now considered genre classics in their own right, these three films couldn’t be more different from each other. Of the trio, “The Hunt for Red October” might even be the most impressive, if only for the amount of tension it exudes from the close-ups of actors pretending to interpret data from radar screens, as well as tight shots of sweaty-faced men looking intently at each other. That and ILM’s underwater visual effects, which have a strong hands-on component that has seen them age well over the past 32 years.

Of course, even the most technologically advanced submarine would be lost without a trained crew, and a movie like “The Hunt for Red October” is no exception. Besides Connery (who, aside from his “Soviet” accent, brings his usual gruff gravity to the role of Ramius), Baldwin is well cast as the most down-to-earth, smartest iteration of Jack Ryan who is still to beautify the screen. Then there’s the deep bench of talent in the supporting ensemble – which, besides Neill, includes James Earl Jones, Tim Curry, Courtney B. Vance, Scott Glenn and Stellan Skarsgård in key roles. While it’s hard to go wrong with a team like this, you still have to give credit to McTiernan for casting each of these actors in a role that plays to their individual strengths.

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