Gerard Butler stars as a captain gone wild in “Hunter Killer.” (Courtesy Jack English/Summit)

Action-packed ‘Hunter Killer’ borders on parody

Think of every military action movie cliche you can. The maverick hero who’s just an average guy. The uptight rule-following second-in-command who learns a good lesson. Enemies who aren’t so different after all. So many of these hackneyed stereotypes are thrown at the Gerard Butler-starring Navy thriller “Hunter Killer,” you have to wonder if this is the “Scary Movie” of submarine movies.

Directed by Donovan Marsh, “Hunter Killer” is just this side of a parody. There’s fun to be had with formula, and if you aren’t taking it all too seriously, the film is a hoot, even if that’s not what the filmmakers were going for.

Based on the novel “Firing Point,” the plot concerns an underwater dogfight in the Barents Sea that’s keeping World War 3 at bay, while on the surface, a coup d’etat is unfolding at the Polyarny base in Russia.

When the USS Tampa Bay goes down with 110 sailors, the target of a Russian torpedo, Capt. Joe Glass (Butler) is yanked out of the Scottish highlands, where he’s bow hunting moose (naturally). He’s plopped at the helm of a “hunter killer” sub, the USS Arkansas, to figure out just what is going on in Kola Bay.

If there’s a playbook, no one’s following it. Glass, a cool captain, asks his executive officer (Carter MacIntyre), “Would you rather be right or be alive?” as he goes rogue, picking up a few Russian sailors from their sunken sub and piloting the Arkansas into a treacherous fjord littered with mines and sensors with the help of Russian captain Andropov (Michael Nyqvist).

In “Hunter Killer,” everyone’s going rogue, including the Russian defense minister Durov (Michael Gor), who usurps the handsome but dumb Russian President Zakarin (Alexander Diachenko), not to mention the U.S. Department of Defense and the NSA, headed up by Rear Admiral Fisk (Common) and Jayne Nordquist (Linda Cardellini) respectively. They cook up a harebrained scheme for a special forces unit to extract Zakarin and get him on the sub.

Marsh and cinematographer Tom Marais do shoot the movie with dynamism. Below the surface, details feel real, even if ripped from “The Hunt for Red October,” but on land, everything is enhanced with too much CGI.

While ‘Hunter Killer” bounces between serious and silly, it never quite finds a suitable place to land.

— Katie Walsh, Tribune News Service

REVIEW
Hunter Killer
Two stars
Starring: Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common, Linda Cardellini, Michael Nyqvist, Michael Gor
Written by: Arne L. Schmidt, Jamie Moss
Directed by: Donovan Marsh
Rated: R
Running time: 2 hours, 1 minuteMovies and TV

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

New legislation would make sure supportive housing tenants don’t pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent.. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))
Supportive housing tenants could get more help paying the rent

Supportive housing tenants struggling to pay rent could soon see their payments… Continue reading

Organizers of the San Francisco International Arts Festival had planned to use parts of Fort Mason including the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery to host performances by about a dozen Bay Area arts groups. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Arts festival sues city over permit denial

Organizer says outdoor performances should be treated like demonstrations, religious gatherings

An oversight body for San Francisco’s mental health programs may be restructured after questions were raised about its management and lack of effectiveness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Behavioral health oversight body looks for new start — and staff — after mismanagement

Members of an oversight body for San Francisco’s behavioral health programs said… Continue reading

The City requires the recycling or reuse of debris material removed from a construction project site. <ins>(Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
<ins></ins>
Permits proposed for haulers of construction debris to achieve zero-waste

San Francisco plans to tighten regulations on the disposal of construction and… Continue reading

Most Read