K-19 : The Widowmaker Review

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1961. The Russian Navy's first nuclear sub sets off on its maiden voyage at the height of the Cold War. But disaster strikes as captain Vostrikov and his deputy Polenin clash, and a leaking reactor could trigger World War III.


Harrison Ford needs a slap. Harsh? Well, consider Exhibit A - he turned down The Sum Of All Fears for this drab sub thriller. Exhibit B - his tired, charmless and dodgily-accented performance, in which he looks less concerned with the fate of the world than with trying to squeeze out a close-quarters fart undetected. Clearly, drastic action is required to save our hero - next time, Harry, read the script before the cheque.

Yet even vintage Ford couldn't salvage K-19. The cramped sets suffocate Bigelow's signature visual flourishes, while it's staggering that a movie based on a true story can be so cliche-ridden (don't submariners know that a picture of a girlfriend equals a death warrant?) and, unforgivably, dull.

It's also interminable, dragging on and on. And then dragging on some more. While it's admirable to see an American blockbuster side with 'the enemy' - and there is one superb sequence involving an understandable act of cowardice - generally K-19 is dead in the water.

It's no U-571. Enough said.