Movie Review: The Hunt for Red October

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Elliot Smythe ’24

The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 blockbuster based on the preceding novel by Tom Clancy. Interestingly enough, Clancy could not find a publisher, so he asked the Naval Institute Press, which published his novel in 1984. The book took off and was read by generals and even Ronald Reagan. Soon thereafter, a movie was in development.

I was blown away by the intensity of the film’s plot; every scene builds to the climax more and more, and the stakes are ultimately massive. The story revolves around a Russian commander who decides to abandon the Soviet Union and defect to America, taking a high tech submarine and its crew with him, while his home country pursues him in force. A young CIA agent is tasked with preventing this incoming disaster, and must wade through oceans both physical and bureaucratic in order to do so. The movie has startling realism throughout, and captures the tight spaces of the submarine as well as the hectic webbing of American leadership. While I am no expert on naval trivia or on 1980’s military structure, The Hunt for Red October certainly gives the impression that it was made by one. The setting of The Red October, as well as various US Navy ships, are both detailed and grand, and showcase the high stakes of the movie quite well.

A young Alec Baldwin plays the heroic CIA agent while a gentlemanly but fierce Sean Connery plays the naval captain of the Red October, the central high-tech submarine. Both complement each other well, even if their shared screen time is limited. They stand up against the heated confrontation of world superpowers and preach reason in unreasonable times, while employing just the right amount of force to make the movie interesting. The supporting cast delivers convincing and effective performances that truly showcase the twists and turns one must go through in order to reach common ground. Ultimately, The Hunt for Red October gives a thoroughly hopeful message: that we can prevail against war and strife through a combined effort towards reason and non-violence. 

The Hunt For Red October deserves a 9.5/10. Its portrayal of difficult themes and unrelenting thrills are exquisite, and the acting and cinematography are incredible.