Crimson Tide Reviews
Watched the complete movie tonight on DVD. Some of the best parts of the movie are when Hackman and Washington are going toe to toe. Great actors!
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!?.
Add to great, suspenseful story some top notch performances, solid direction and a fantastic script, and this is one of Tony Scott's best. Sure, it has all the Simpson/Bruckheimer hallmarks of 90's action cinema, especially in the music. But it's probably the best of the lot.
Submarine movies aren't very common. The story really doesn't have room to move and the character build is near impossible. "Crimson Tide" doesn't care for that and it sets it's story on pure suspence of a simple idea: we need hear a message, but the radio is broken. We have to fix the radio, but the time is running out. Then add mutiny and the power struggle between the leaders of the boat and you're done. Nearly 2 hours of quality entertainment.
Overall "Crimson Tide" paints the picture of the big what-if: what if we could be once again from a press of a button to a total nuclear annihilation? That storyline is equally terrifying and interesting and with the battle of wits between the Captain and the XO the movie is entertaining to watch, even towards the un-surprising ending.
YOU DONT PUT ON A CONDOM UNLESS YOU'RE READY TO FUCK!
Also as a side-note, the sound as well as Hans Zimmer's score in this film is outstanding. You FEEL it as tensions escalates. On a technical level, this movie is top notch, especially given the date it was made. Roger Ebert criticized that the submarine scenes looked too much like it was shot in a bath tub. I've seen so many heavy CG movies in the past decade that I almost find the effects from this movie are given a different realistic quality than the heavy CG movies that I've been seeing recently. It's hard to explain, I guess theirs something more 'organic' about miniatures that haven't yet been replicated in current CG. I revisited Total Recall recently too and felt the same way on some of their effects shots. An exploding head done in CG would not have looked the same with the prosthetics that were used back in the day. It creepily has more of a 'physical presence' on screen rather than a digitally composited one. Even if it looks like a toy, it looks like it's actually there. It's hard to explain, you'll just have to see it for yourself. Feel free share your thoughts on my wordy first review.