One of Gerard Butler’s best performances can be found in an action flick that ticks all the right boxes. A palpable sense of tension coats much of Hunter Killer and unpronounced, but effective, cinematography conveys the claustrophobic feeling of what it must be like in what is referred to as a ‘manned, underwater bomb.
Unlike many modern action films, which metaphorically beats their chest while chanting “USA!”, Donovan Marsh’s film is refreshingly devoid of any jingoistic story pieces. The story isn’t groundbreaking, but observes the high pressured and reckless decisions Captain Glass (Butler) must make when his crews submarine attacked by a Russian submarine. The political waters are muddied further when it becomes apparent that the assault is the result of a coup in Russia staged by Admiral Dmitri Durov (an impressive Michael Gor), a close adviser to their president.
The reason for why the coup has been staged isn’t explored at all, but it is planned in a way that it will appear as if the Americans are at fault WWIII does break out. These events lead to a two-pronged American plan, in which submarines and a special four-man covert ops team are commissioned to neutralize the situation.
The two strands are never confusing to follow, though the underwater footage demanded more screen time, as his multi-angle approach is executed seamlessly. In addition to the suspense which lingers for most of the film, the action is hard hitting. Each launched torpedo is well-realized visually and the action above the water, take the scene involving a sniper, is visceral and satisfying.
Overall Hunter Killer delivers in the action department and while providing more brains than your average action film.