Red October (1990) is based on the fictitious book written by Tom Clancy. The film is directed by John McTiernan and stares Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glen, James Earl Jones, and Tim Curry.
The basic premise of the film is during the cold war a Soviet captain and his officers want to defect to America in a new submarine with a new propulsion system using water as a propulsion system.
This allows the sub to remain undetected by sonar, and when an American sub locates them on radar, they disappear right in front of the Americans.
A UN analyst in the UK is sent to speak with his superior at a facility in the US to discuss the launch of the new Soviet submarine. After examining some photographs, he is then sent to a submarine yard to find out what the outer "doors" on the submarine could be used for. After the use for the doors is found, a UN meeting is held to discuss what this submarine and her soviet captain intend to do and what they're capable of.
As this meeting is being held, information about the entire Soviet submarine fleet departing to open waters to hunt down Ramius (Sean Connery) is discussed and the fear of an attack on the US is shared by everybody except the UN analyst, who concludes that the captain wants to defect, based on his personal experience and knowledge of the captain commanding the new Typhoon class sub.
The UN analyst is given 3 days to prove his theory correct before Ramius is hunted down by both Americans and Soviets.
The plot of the film is full of action, suspense, and storytelling. However, I personally don't believe the film is good on just the story. In fact, it's the visuals, the film's story boarding, and musical score that set this film apart from other submarine movies.
A big thing for me is the use of miniature sets. This film was made in 1990, and using CGI for extreme underwater effects would be too costly. So the next best thing (or better thing) would be to construct miniature submarines and suspend them on wires.
By using miniatures, along with the right lighting and particle generators, the underwater scenes in the film become virtually identical to real life. Having physical objects in front of the camera allows for much greater belief in the world the film is trying to give you.
It also helps that the film shows more than interior cabins like other submarine movies made around the same time. The actual plot is more engaging too: A soviet captain wanting to defect to America in a new super silent submarine with the entire Russian fleet on his tail, and the Americans taking sides with the Russians out of fear. How can this not be a great movie?!
The musical score is also amazing! Basil Poledouris composed the music, and it fits perfectly with the film. The opening score uses the Russian soviet choir and the backing instruments to the choir is grand! The russian lyrics sung uplift you beyond the film and help you to see it beyond a generic movie. The choir plays throughout the film at given parts, which just helps make the film even more special.
Overall, Red October is an underrated film. It doesn't try anything fancy, but it gets a cold war thriller spot on. It has that 90's vibe to it, with the score and miniatures. It makes you know you're watching a film of high quality. If I had to give an example of a film that was done for the art and for telling of a story, Red October would be one of the few examples.
Modern films are missing that element: the art of storytelling. All these films are just rushed by the big studios so they get their money money money. Even directors and writers care more about rushing this current film so they can make the next movie and rush that to make the next one.
What ever happened to making a film for the art aspect of it?? Or making a movie to tell a story, to captivate an audience, to throw in a surprise twist, to lead you down a different path from the main story, then bring you back? What ever happened to making a great movie with a great quality to it? I do not know.
What I do know, is that Red October is a great submarine/cold war movie, and if you ever want to watch a film with a good amount of suspense, storytelling, action, and art to it, this is the film to watch!