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The Hunt for Red October

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Review by Brian Koller
2 stars out of 4

This movie stars Sean Connery, as the Lithuanian-born captain of a Russian submarine who wants to defect to the U.S., bringing his prototype sub (The Red October) with him. Alec Baldwin also stars as a government analyst who is a complete expert on Connery and what he will do next.

Connery is cast, apparently, because Americans can't tell a British accent from a Eastern European one. He kills a KGB agent on his newly-launched sub in cold blood, because the agent will get in the way. While a surprise, the audience is supposed to approve of the murder because the victim is after all a KGB agent and therefore not a human being.

The Russian sub has prototype engines that are nearly silent. Yet the Americans learn how to track this submarine, while the Russians can't.

Connery sends a message to the Soviets, telling them that he is defecting. He fails to inform about the Americans that he is defecting! This leads to the entire Soviet fleet after him. The Russian ambassador to the U.S. eventually requests that the U.S. also hunt down and destroy the sub, using the pretext that Connery will fire his missiles on the U.S. The Americans are extremely rude to the Soviet ambassador, apparently for dramatic purposes.

Baldwin briefs government officials on Connery. He knows everything about him except what he had for breakfast last Wednesday. While the other officials argue stupidly, it dawns on Baldwin that Connery is going to defect. In addition to being the best-looking and most impassioned, it happens throughout the movie that Baldwin is the only one who knows exactly what Connery will do. This makes it almost believable that everyone will do, despite orders, whatever he asks, including that he be flown by helicopter to a submarine (the Dallas) in the North Atlantic ocean, since he has figured out that is where Connery will defect.

Connery fakes a nuclear accident on the sub, as a pretext to abandon the crew in rafts on the surface, so his staff can turn the sub over to the Dallas. Baldwin boards the Red October, and we are surprised to learn that he speaks fluent Russian. One of Connery's loyal staff turns out to be a pro-Soviet saboteur. Baldwin, of all people, goes after him with a handgun and gets him. Meanwhile, a Soviet sub has located the Red October and fires missiles at it. Fortunately, Connery is so clever that the missiles end up turning around and destroying the Soviet sub.

"The Hunt For Red October" is based on a Tom Clancy book. But if I did not know otherwise, I would have presumed that the plot of this movie was the winner of a contest for being most unbelievable.

Copyright 1998 Brian Koller

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