Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crimson Tide (1995)

Director: Tony Scott

Starring: Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Matt Craven, George Dzundza, Viggo Mortensen, James Gandolfini, Rocky Carroll, James Gomez

More info: IMDb

Tagline: In the face of the ultimate nuclear showdown, one man has absolute power and one man will do anything to stop him

Plot: On a US nuclear missile sub, a young first officer stages a mutiny to prevent his trigger happy captain from launching his missiles before confirming his orders to do so.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Yeah.

I dig a good submarine movie. My favorite is DAS BOOT (1981) and someday I'll get around to watch the 4+ hour version. I don't know how realistic the spacious sub is in this picture but it's huge inside. Hell, they even have several VERY overweight crewmen which goes against conventional wisdom. But all of that doesn't matter because it's the story that counts - the story and the performances of the two leads. Washington and Hackman are at their bullheaded best and are the real reason to watch this. There's quite a bit of suspense and very little quiet down time.

I've got a huge gripe that can't be left unsaid. Hans Zimmer's music hurts the film. I know, I know, you and everybody else thinks it's brilliant. It's so loud and obnoxious that it draws attention to itself. First of all, he's riffing on what Basil Poledouris did with his excellent score for THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER (1991). That's aggravating. There are parts of it that sound like a men's choir as performed through a synthesizer. No kidding. Then he cranks the level of machismo and decibels up to 11 and gives the score such an urgency that it's often inappropriate. Take the scene where they took some damage from an enemy sub and they're sinking. If they go too much below 1,800 feet they'll die. As they descend, the crew looks up and around as if they're listening for the bending of metal in the hull and the music's going hard and heavy. There shouldn't have been any music at all and we should have only heard the sounds they were hearing, sounds that are scaring the piss out of them. It's a missed opportunity for a genuine suspenseful scare.

I would have given the movie a better score if it weren't for the heightened, testosterone-laden music. I enjoyed the movie a great deal but the music got in the way. All it did was make me want to see RED OCTOBER, a better film with a better score and one that knows when to shut the fuck up. With TIDE, Scott created a big macho pissing contest, albeit a good one, that was designed to hit you on the head and get you riled up enough to hit something to release all that man juice it pumped you with for two hours. Excuse me while I go run 37 miles.

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