Sean Connery as Marko Ramius in The Hunt for Red October (1990)

The October Incident

"The Hunt for Red October" is one of my go to movies, one of those movies which I will put on whenever I have suffered a few disappointing movies and in need of some good entertainment. Yet whilst that means I have watched "The Hunt for Red October" probably more than once a year since it came out on video and then DVD I never grow bored of it. And the simple reason being is that Tom Clancy's novel on which it is adapted combined with John McTiernan's direction and a brilliant cast makes for entertainment every time. From interesting characters, to moments of action mixed with tension to even moments of humour this is a movie which trots along never once becoming dull or predictable.

With a new revolutionary sub on their hands the Russians put highly respected and decorated Marko Ramius (Sean Connery - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) in charge. The Americans are well aware of this new submarine especially as intelligence photos highlight what maybe a new caterpillar drive system which would make it virtually undetectable. What they don't realise is that Ramius and a select group of Officers are planning to defect. The question is can Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin - Working Girl), who has studied Ramius, realise what he is doing and not only prevent the USS military blowing him out of the water but help him before the Russians do the same.

Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October (1990)

One of the reasons that "The Hunt for Red October" is such a great movie is that there is a lot going on yet not once does it become hard to follow, it is simply genius writing. So to start with we have Marko Ramius aboard the Red October and an early encounter sees him kill the political officer and switch their orders, why? Well we learn out why because Marko plans to defect and in order to do so has false orders which basically takes them to American waters as well as trying to out run their own Russian subs which he knows will be sent to destroy him, clever yet simple. And with out going in to detail this story of Marko defecting grows and twists as there is sabotage involved leading to plenty of moments of action and drama.

But then at the same time we have the story of Jack Ryan who arrives at the CIA with Intelligence photos of the Red October and the immediate threat is what are the giant doors they can see on the underside in the image. This evolves as the initial fear is that Russia is about to attack America with their new sub but evolves as Ryan fathoms out that Marko could be defecting. And likewise this side of the story twists and turns, throwing up plenty of surprises as well as action and tension.

But we're no where near finished yet in fact just when you think that "The Hunt for Red October" has come to a decent end we get another twist a twist which allows us to have some typical McTiernan action as Jack Ryan has to go into action. It may look a bit "Die Hard" but who cares because it delivers the right amount of action just when it is needed. Yes this is a movie which has a lot going on, it is full of twists, it has multiple storylines but they all work together to create a piece of cinema which never is dull and never becomes boring.

Now the combination of the story combined with McTiernan's eye for delivering both tension and action is a big reason why "The Hunt for Red October" works but it is also the casting. Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan is spot on because he gets across the fact that he is an analyst, comfortable and excited by examining the numbers and checking the books which means he is rightly nervous and unsettled when ever there is action. Plus of course there is Sean Connery as Marko Ramius who actually plays it very simple, very emotionless but yet still creates this character we warm to because there is something clever about him. Throw in an impressive cast which also includes James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, Tim Curry and I could go on and every scene there is serious talent delivering great performances.

What this all boils down to is that "The Hunt for Red October" is still a brilliant movie despite being over 20 years old. The combination of a clever but easy to follow story, John McTiernan's brilliant direction which mixes action with tension and a great cast makes for a movie which never grows tiring no matter how many times you watch it.