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The Hunt for Red October (1990)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 1

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 170,480

My Rating

Movie Info

The first of several films based on Tom Clancy's "Jack Ryan" technothrillers, Hunt for Red October stars Alec Baldwin as eccentric CIA analyst Ryan and Sean Connery as Soviet submarine commander Marko Ramius. Ramius sets the plot in motion when he murders his political adviser, burns his orders, and steers his sub Red October towards American waters, hoping to defect. The CIA, aware that the Red October was about to embark on an evasive mission to demonstrate its ability to avoid detection and

Dec 1, 1998

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (49) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (43) | Rotten (2) | DVD (29)

A skillful, efficient film.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A leviathan bore, big, clunky and ponderously overplotted.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comments (14)
Washington Post
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A Reagan youth's wet dream of underwater ballistics and East-West conflict.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the most delectably taut, racing thrillers of its generation.

January 18, 2014 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy

The first Jack Ryan thriller adventure is a supremely mounted film, well acted by Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery, and vastly enjoyable.

August 6, 2012 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

It is a thriller in some sequences, action in others, but it depends on personal taste, how many thrills you believe a movie should have in order to be considered a thriller

May 13, 2009 Full Review Source: Screen It!
Screen It!

As for the film's suspense credentials, you know it's time to get tense when James Earl Jones intones, 'Mother of God.' [Blu-Ray]

August 6, 2008 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

The Soviet captain has a brogue. I'm okay with it. Sue me.

September 15, 2005

For all its flaws, it still holds water.

June 13, 2005

Exciting submarine adventure w/Connery, Baldwin

October 19, 2004

Regressive old-fashioned thriller of a sort that mostly died out 20 years earlier.

May 23, 2004
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Delivers its share of honest to goodness thrills.

January 15, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Solid if somewhat staid adaptation of the Clancy book.

July 27, 2003
Nitrate Online

Politics aside, however, The Hunt for Red October is a thrilling edge-of-your-seat trifle that has admirably withstood the test of time.

May 29, 2003 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

A superbly crafted cold war thriller, with excellent performances, cinematography and tension.

April 27, 2003
Sunday Times (Australia)

If any film in Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan series stands out as the best (or even a truly great movie), it's The Hunt for Red October.

April 26, 2003 Full Review Source:

A crackerjack Hollywood thriller that makes most other attempts look pathetic.

April 4, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Competently made submarine action film, one of the better Clancy adaptations.

March 19, 2003

Great Tom Clancy adaptation

February 19, 2003
Henderson Home News (Henderson, NV)

At last, a thriller that assumes its audience is smart (nice "Russian" accent on Connery, heh).

January 9, 2003
New Times

The swan song for Cold War movies: a final, gripping trip against those pesky Russkies with first rate results.

November 1, 2002
Flipside Movie Emporium

Connery, Baldwin, a Tom Clancy novel; great fun.

August 20, 2002
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

McTiernan does a great job with this submarine thriller. Also features a stellar ensemble of character actors.

July 25, 2002

Audience Reviews for The Hunt for Red October

It bogs down in the technical stuff in its second half, but it's still a competent Cold War classic from the director of Die Hard, (who also directed duds like The 13th Warrior and The Thomas Crown Affair, but I digress). I enjoyed learning that Alec Baldwin and Sam Neill weren't always middle-aged, and I especially appreciated that the Russians didn't have ridiculous accents (the film uses a zoom to switch from subtitled Russian to English, letting you in to the artifice). It's overly long and a bit mechanical, but this big-budget game of Battleship compares favourably to a lot of similar films.
September 19, 2013

Super Reviewer

Captain Ramius: You're afraid of our fleet. Well, you should be. Personally, I'd give us one chance in three. More tea anyone? 

"Invisible. Silent. Stolen."

The Hunt for Red October is a film that deserves its classification as a thriller. There isn't a lull in the 2 hour plus runtime. It's a nonstop thrilling ride beneath the sea. Part of the reason the movie works so well is because of an extraordinary cast of Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, James Earle Jones, Sam Neill and Tim Curry. There's a bunch of great character actors in there too, that I know by their face, but if asked I couldn't tell you their names. 

Red October is the name of a Russian sub, which is the command of Captain Ramius. Under his command the sub defects and makes its way towards the United States. The plot has many turns and what you expect isn't always what you get. Sean Connery makes this movie with his terrific veteran presence. Every time I watch a movie with him in it; I am always stunned by how convincing the guy is onscreen. Alec Baldwin isn't one of my favorite actors, but he is pretty good as the hero.

This is a thriller that doesn't rely to much on action. There are long sequences where the excitement comes from listening to the characters talk instead of watching them run and shoot. Its a smart, well paced, cool film that I liked immensely. I'll take this over Die Hard any day.
September 26, 2011
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

Based on Tom Clancy's debut novel, The Hunt For Red October. This film is about a new type of Russian typhoon class submarine, being chased across the seas when the crew decides to defect to the Americans. This typhoon class submarine is named the Red October and the Russians have installed a secret propulsion system that could render the sub nearly silent to sonar. The thrills are nonstop, the story is top notch and is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery deliver strong performances. The Hunt For Red October is one of the best films adapted from a Tom Clancy novel. This film is brilliant with great directing, pacing and acting. The Hunt For Red October is a different type of submarine film thats very enjoyable, despite the fact it's very different from previous films in the sub genre. This isn't a war film, this is more of a suspense / Thriller film and it delivers on both. For those who have read the book, they will be pleased to know that this film was very well adapted and the filmmakers stayed through enough to the source material. John McTiernan delivers a solid piece of cinema, and The Hunt For Red October is one of his best films since Die Hard. A superbly crafted thriller, The Hunt For Red October is a film that Tom Clancy fans will thoroughly enjoy, and as a person who's read Clancy's book, I can honestly say that the filmmakers did a terrific job at adapting this electrifying story.
April 9, 2011
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

"The Hunt for Red October" is the first of three fine submarine thrillers from the 1990s and early 2000s, the others being "Crimson Tide" and "K-19, The Widowmaker". "Crimson Tide" told a wholly fictitious story and "K-19" was an essentially true one. "The Hunt for Red October" falls somewhere between these two positions, being (like Tom Clancy's novel) very loosely based upon events which took place on board the Soviet warship Storozhevoy (a surface ship, not a submarine) in 1975. The Storozhevoy mutiny was led by a political officer named Valery Sablin, an idealistic Communist who hoped to spark a revolution against the corrupt Brezhnev regime, which he saw as having betrayed the Leninist ideals of 1917.

The officer at the centre of the film, Captain Marko Ramius, is a very different character with very different motives. Ramius is an ethnic Lithuanian who has been appointed him to command the "Red October", the newest and most advanced nuclear submarine in the Soviet Navy, but has decided to defect to the West, motivated not only by disillusionment with the Communist system but also by fears that his vessel has been designed not as a deterrent but as an aggressive weapon which will allow the Soviet leadership to launch an unprovoked first strike against America. When the Soviet authorities learn of Ramius's intentions, they decide to sink the "Red October" and try to persuade the Americans to assist them in this task by falsely claiming that Ramius is a madman who is planning a strike against the U.S. (A sort of Russian version of Jack D. Ripper in "Dr Strangelove").

This film was also the one which introduced Clancy's hero Jack Ryan to cinema audiences. (Ryan was later to feature in three more films, "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger", in which he was played by Harrison Ford, and "The Sum of All Fears", in which he was played by Ben Affleck). Here, Ryan is a CIA analyst whose task it is to brief government officials on the possible threat from the "Red October". He deduces, correctly, that Ramius plans to defect and has to prove his theory before "Red October" is sunk by the U.S. Navy.

The two main characters are played by two very different actors, but both are very good. Sean Connery might seem an odd choice as Ramius, as he had spent most of his career playing either a Scot or an Englishman. (There had, however, been a few exceptions such as his Irish-American in "The Molly Maguires" and his Arab sheikh in "The Wind and the Lion"). Here he uses his Scottish accent to good advantage, suggesting the ethnic differences between himself and his fellow crewmen. (I doubt if, even in Soviet times, Lithuanians spoke Russian with the same accent as Muscovites). His Ramius is calm and authoritative, but also conceals a streak of ruthlessness; he is prepared to kill the ship's political officer rather than allow him to sabotage his plan. (The political officer is named Putin, a surname which has since taken on overtones it did not have in 1990). Alec Baldwin's Ryan is younger and more mercurial than Ford's interpretation of the character. (I have not yet seen Affleck in "The Sum of All Fears"). There are also contributions from other well-known actors such as Sam Neill as Ramius's second-in-command and James Earl Jones as Admiral Greer, Ryan's superior at the CIA. (Unlike Baldwin, Jones was to play the same role in the next two Jack Ryan films).

Clancy's novel was first published in 1984 during the brief Andropov/Chernenko era when the Cold War was still at its height. By the time the film came out six years later the world had seen great changes. It was originally intended to set the film in 1990 to make it seem more immediate, but with the fall of the Berlin Wall a few months before the first theatrical release this now seemed inappropriate. A title was therefore inserted at the beginning stating that the events shown take place in 1984.

Director John McTiernan handles the material well here to produce a gripping, edge-of-the-seat thriller with some particularly tense sequences, notably the one where Ramius has to navigate his vessel through a series of narrow underwater canyons to evade his Soviet pursuers. The tension is no way lessened by the changes in the international political situation which had occurred shortly before the film's release. The Cold War thriller managed to survive the Cold War itself, and "The Hunt for Red October" is one of the most efficient examples of the genre.
April 7, 2011
David Ladd

Super Reviewer

    1. Jack Ryan: Send him this.
    2. Capt. Bart Mancuso: Are you out of your mind?
    3. Jack Ryan: Just send it.
    4. Capt. Bart Mancuso: tell me one thing how did you know he was going to Starboard?
    5. Jack Ryan: I didn't. I had a 55/50 chance. I needed a break, sorry.
    6. Capt. Bart Mancuso: That's alright. Mr. Ryan My Morse is so rusty I could be sending him dimensions on Playmate of the Month.
    – Submitted by Aaron P (11 months ago)
    1. Capt. Marko Ramius: Ryan some things in here don't react well to bullets.
    – Submitted by Aaron P (12 months ago)
    1. Capt. Bart Mancuso: Are you out of your mind Ryan?
    2. Jack Ryan: Just send it.
    3. Capt. Bart Mancuso: My Morse is so rusty I could be sending him dimensions on Playmate of the Month.
    – Submitted by Aaron P (12 months ago)
    1. Capt. Bart Mancuso: The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.
    – Submitted by Victor M (21 months ago)
    1. Jeffrey Pelt: Listen, I'm a politician, which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops, but it also means that I keep my options open.
    – Submitted by Victor M (21 months ago)
    1. Bill Steiner: Your sub captain's going to make to America Mr. Ryan. And he's going to die within sight of it.
    – Submitted by Aaron S (23 months ago)
View all quotes (18)

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Foreign Titles

  • Jagd auf Rotor Oktober (DE)
  • A la poursuite d'Octobre rouge (FR)
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