Crimson Tide (1995) – Tony Scott

The next film on the What Else to Watch list following my screening of Das Boot for DK Canada’s The Movie Book is the white knuckle all star thriller, Crimson Tide.

Featuring Tony Scott’s saturated color style, sharp edits, and punchy camera angles the film follows the crew of the U.S.S. Alabama as she ends up on the edge of war as the world creeps closer to the brink, and everything is left in the hand of one captain, Ramsey (Gene Hackman) and his XO, Hunter (Denzel Washington).

Wonderfully tense, and featuring a Grammy wining score by Hans Zimmer, the film features Viggo Mortenson, James Gandolfini, Ricky Schroder, and George Dzunda.

With a power struggle happening in Russia, and the threat of war arising from it, the Navy mobilizes and the Alabama is at its vanguard. Hunter, an Annapolis and Harvard educated commander, joins an already established crew, overseen by a hardened captain, who has a rough, but established command style. When the ship receives a fragmented message that may suggest they fire their weapons, a power struggle ensues, as the chain of command, and the safety of the world come into conflict with one another.

But there’s also a Russian sub out there that is taking shots at them…


The crew respect both men, and are drawn into a battle of personalities with nuclear destruction hanging in the balance. It’s a brisk film, with tight dialogue, fantastic effects (both visual and audio), and every one in the film just seems to be bringing their A-game.

There are charges of mutiny thrown around, relief of command, even as Hunter tries to get a fragmented message repeated. Ramsey and Hunter clash with the crew of the ship between them, divided by loyalties and the need for chain of command, and going by the book. It’s fantastically done.

But how realistic is it?

Because of the subject matter, and inability to get script approval, the United States Navy wasn’t involved in the making of the film.  So that could mean anything…

Still, I enjoy the way the film works, I’ve always loved Scott’s visual style, and the cast in this film is just exemplary. This is a solid incredibly entertaining submarine film. Of course, until K-19 came along, I didn’t think there could be a bad sub film (which is too bad, because Kathryn Bigelow, Harrison Ford!).

It’s been forever since I sat and watched this one, and settling in for it, I was stunned by not only how well it holds up, but how incredibly well-crafted this one is. The cast is amazing, the film is brisk and tense, and Scott executes it fantastically.

Check it out!

Or pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and find a new to you classic to watch tonight!





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