Crimson Tide Reviews
A Bruckheimer/Simpson production and boy can you tell, a veritable feast for the eyes with the standard graphic novel-like adaptation imagery that looks glossy, sharp and always exciting (with the assistance of some guy called Michael Bay). All together these three guys created some memorable action flicks that really are the true meaning of blockbuster.
'Crimson Tide' is no exception, well maybe one small exception, and that's the fact this film is probably the most sensible, realistic action flick they've created. Now if you will, this is my little videogame analogy of these flicks. Most of the Bruckheimer/Simpson flicks are what I would call 'arcade' type action flicks, they're big, loud, flashy and give plenty of bang for your buck.
'Crimson Tide' is more of a 'simulator' action flick in the simple fact its more realistic with deeper tension. This of course would be down to the brilliant direction of Ba...errr Scott who knows his way around a good looking military action flick.
So in short the visuals here are crisp, smoky and sweat inducing in nice shades of green, blue and red. Life aboard a sub has been created seriously well and you really get that tight feeling as the camera peers down steel tubes and stairwells. Despite the fact almost the entire film takes place in the sub you never once lose interest as we go from action stations against Russian subs to one mutiny after another as Washington faces off against Hackman.
This of course leads me to the cast which is really superb here. Even the small fry roles played by small fry character actors are decent. The big guns naturally fire on all cylinders, Hackman is pretty intimidating as the sub Captain whilst Washington easily gains your support as the 'good guy' of sorts. Supporting roles are also solid with Gandolfini in his usual slightly nasty persona, the guy who likes to make his presence known, and Mortensen as the guy torn between his captain and friend.
Nice early build up into the film as we gather the crew and see what each are like. There isn't too much in special effects either as most of the action is simply viewing the crew and sub innards as each suspenseful situation looms, kicks off and passes. Brave move that pays off as you would expect lots of fancy CGI sequences. Finally a stirring moving bold musical score to really bring home the seriousness and heroism of the story...less you forget this is an AMERICAN military thriller damn it!!
So end of the day yes you know how it will all end, pretty obvious of course. You know which man will stand tall and victorious by the end credits. You know there will be a change of character by the loser and you know there's bound to be a scene where men get trapped in the bowels of the sub and must be sacrificed to save the rest of the crew. Many typical scenes where the crew must decide who is in charge and if they're doing it the right way, the Navy way, the American way...cue rousing musical score and close ups of sweaty stern jawed faces.
I like to think of this as Scott's grown up follow up to 'Top Gun' (had to mention it). All the hallmarks of a slick military action flick but much more sensible without 80's pop music and male posing. I saw this opening night at the cinema (ye olde 'Warner Village' cinema's) back when I was a young teen and liked it, I still like it now, what more can I say!?.
Michael Schiffer and Richard P. Henrick provide a decent script, snatched up by studios as a box office smash, but they are let down by slightly poor direction from Tony Scott, who I would love to like but have found it hard so far.
Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman portray not very deep characters, but you find yourself egging Washington on and I found myself developing a slight grudge against Hackman, who play Executive Officer Hunter and Captain Ramsey respectively.
The man who can only be known as Tony and another as Aragon provide good performances. No one steals the show but they are among the decent cast the best.
There are interesting shots, moments which capture the fear that sub-mariners must feel in these situations, and at times a gripping storyline, but the film is let down by over the top beats and acting that does drive me to frustration at times.
Although not the best film of all time, "Tide" is a decent film, enjoyed by not only the typical man but also many others as well.
*** 3 Star
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: Yes, Sir.
Hunter: You have to set an example even in the face of stupidity. Everybody who reads comic books knows that the Kirby Silver Surfer is the only true Silver Surfer. Now am I right or wrong?
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: You're right, Sir.
Hunter: Now get out of here.
Petty Officer First Class Danny Rivetti: Yes, Sir.
It's nice to know that Tarantino did some dialogue additions, giving more life to some of the characters in a real sense, because it's fun to see. I'm not a big fan of Submarine movies, they are pretty predictable, but in a movie like this, it shows once again that it is not what a movie is about, but how it is done that makes the difference. Tony Scott directs a well crafted thriller made for summer audiences. A well rounded cast led by Denzel and Hackman do a good job. Some neat sub effects, mixed with great sound effects and a good score by Hans Zimmer, that will be used again in years later. Scott gives his visual touch here, which works well in a sub combining the movements with the claustrophobic nature. Good stuff.
As much as I give Ridley Scott trash for keeping his films just too quiet and dull, there are points in this film where I wish his brother, Tony, would just turn down the music. Don't get me wrong, I can never get enough Hans Zimmer, yet the way Tony Scott manipulates it leaves a deal of should-be quiet scenes to overbear, though not as much as the sentimental scenes, which are rare, but when they snap on, oh man does Scott pump it full of sap with his misuse of the great Hans Zimmer's work. Still, contrary to how I make it sound, the film quiet itself down, yet there's still too much freneticism in the air during plenty of those quiet moments, making the exposition and resonance within them to fall a touch limp, to a certain degree, while further diluting the film's level of intelligence. Sure, as political as this film gets here and there, it's still somewhat of an action film about a bunch of manly men hanging out, spouting off military banter and occasionally engaging in some fairly brutal battles, so I'm not asking for Shakespeare here, though the film still touches on many intriguing pieces of subject matter that, in the hands of a more competent filmmaker - perhaps one that's experienced in effective action-dramas -, could have been prominent, though not to the point of drowning out tension. Still, as it stands, Tony lives up the Scott name by presenting us a sharp production, with talented and clever writers and performers, while still not being skilled enough (Or rather, smart enough) as director to have the film truly live up to its potential. Still, while Tony Scott is still not as competent as his still overly workmanlike, fellow director brother, I wasn't just blowing smoke when I said that he has put together quite the team. Again, his production isn't as top-notch as those found in Ridley Scott's should-be excellent films (Seriously Ridley, wake up as director, because I'm dying to actually love one of your films), but Tony Scott still knows how to assemble a crack team of talents that are just strong enough to really bring this film to surface; and yes, that was a cheesy submarine reference.
Even with its moments of manipulative misuse, come on, it's still a Hans Zimmer, so of course it's still awesome. On top of just plain sounding good, Zimmer's score has a subtle sweep to it, giving the film some scope, but still plenty of intimacy with the situations within the sidelines, giving the film consequence to juice it up in various deparments, particularly the action department, during which, Zimmer isn't the only one who shines. Tony Scott is so wildly improvable as a storyteller, but as far as action goes, he really knows how to summon tension, intrigue and, yes, at times, even emotional resonance in the heat of battle, whether it be through manipulation of Dariusz Wolski's excellent cinematography or simply manipulation of atmosphere, and that really gives a lot of weight to this film, not just stylistically, but even as far as substance goes. Still, although most of the whole second half of the film is unrelenting intrigue and meditative action, weighty action still can only supplement already existing resonance, something that goes heavily diluted by Scott's all-too workmanlike, if not rather weak handling of exposition, yet never fades, because what really brings this film to life is not simply the execution of Michael Schiffer's and Richard P. Henrick's screenplay, but Schiffer's and Henrick's screenplay, itself, which sets up everything in an occasionally conventional fashion, but, on the whole, really understands its characters and situations, setting them up in a very lively and human way, with intelligence that dilutes in execution, but is still there enough to appeal. Also, props to an uncredited Quentin Tarantino for his punch-up of the dialogue, which further intensifies the human feel, as it glows with Tarantino's believable, yet ever-so entertaining and memorably machismo-rific snap, though without all the dragging that plagues the screenplays of his own films. Still, no matter how great a screenplay is, it still has to be well executed to some degree, and while Scott doesn't bring much to the table, in terms of executing the humanity and charm of the screenplay, his performers really step up, boasting crackling chemistry, charisma and individuality between them, making for a colorful cast of charmers, those ones that bring plenty more than just charm during some of the heavier moments. The problem with the film is the fact that Tony Scott is just too much of an action director, leaving the film to not as much as it really should have, yet the components behind the substance all but make up for Scott's messy execution and leave the film not as rewarding as it should be, but pretty satisfying from as much of a substance standpoint as a stylistic standpoint.
In conclusion, the film's substance goes diluted by Tony Scott's unintelligent and occasionally manipulative storytelling, as well a few moments in genericism, yet the film powers on, given some pretty sharp kicks when Scott's fine taste in tense action comes into play and goes intensified by Hans Zimmer's amazing score and Dariusz Wolski's fine cinematography, which isn't to say that the substance body of the story doesn't boast enough snap, charm, wit and humanity in the screenplay and colorful performances to ultimately leave "Crimson Tide" to roll tid-I mean, roll "on" as a thoroughly entertaining and somewhat rewarding - in terms of story - blockbuster.
3/5 - Good