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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.91%
Worth A Look53.19%
Average: 8.51%
Pretty Bad: 2.13%
Total Crap: 4.26%

3 reviews, 29 user ratings

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Crimson Tide
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by Scott Weinberg

"Hackman vs. Denzel: Underwater!"
4 stars

There's a great little scene in Tony Scott's rather satsifying "Crimson Tide" that has nothing to do with screaming co-stars Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman or the underwater intensity that the flick delivers in spades. Nah, it's a scene in which two Navy men discuss their favorite submarine movies. It's a witty little moment that reminds the audience that the filmmakers respect this particular sub-genre -- and will do all they can to get their own title included among the Submarine Greats.

So while Crimson Tide is no Das Boot (or even a Red October), it's more than good enough to earn a spot on the list of Submarine Must-Sees ... or at least the modern half of the list.

Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman are simply brilliant together, with the former playing a by-the-book executive officer (the "XO") and the latter having a ball as the stern and unyielding sub captain. It would be enough to say these underwater soldiers simply don't see eye to eye, and leave it at that. Unfortunately, these two men are responsible for the placement of a certain nuclear weapon -- a relationship that doesn't leave a whole lot of "wiggle room" for tension, impatience, or antagonism.

It's a craftily simple premise: An old-school sub captain insists on going through with a nuclear attack, despite that fact that his orders to do so may have been rescinded. But since the sub's being chased by some unpleasant enemies, the crew cannot surface to clarify their orders. Thus begins a stalwart battle of will between Capt. Frank Ramsey and Executive Officer Ron Hunter. And yes: punches do get thrown.

While most submarine thrillers are content to provide conflict from without, most of Crimson Tide's aggression comes from within. As expected, the U.S.S. Alabama is packed to the gills with well-intentioned seamen -- some of whom side with the captain, and others who stick with the XO. And let's just say the sub changes hands more than once or twice.

Although considerably more literate and intelligent than most of Jerry Bruckheimer's productions, Crimson Tide still shows off a few of the producers standard trademarks: the slick visual stylings of Tony Scott, the rousing musical score of Hans Zimmer, and a character actor ensemble that's just a joy to sift through. Sweating inside the Alabama's belly you'll find Viggo Mortensen, James Gandolfini, Rick Schroeder, George Dzundza, Matt Craven, Danny Nucci, Lillo Brancato, Steve Zahn, and Ryan Phillippe ... plus there's a great little cameo by Daniel von Bargen as a mad Russian and another one by Jason Robards as an ultra-high ranking Naval official. I've said it a thousand times, and I'll say it again: Bruckheimer knows good actors.

Taken as a one-two punch of Hackman vs. Denzel, Crimson Tide is a whole lot of "guy movie" fun. The characters are set up crisply and efficiently, the conflicts are laid down clearly and cleverly, and once things get really intense ... Crimson Tide moves like a rocket. Plus it's a flick that never gets old, which makes it a perfect addition to any guy's DVD collection.

(© Review reprinted from DVDTalk, with permission from the author (me) and the DVDT management. For the full DVD specs on this particular movie, please visit and get friendly with the search bar.)

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originally posted: 05/22/06 16:21:51
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User Comments

2/20/11 Ark Very good. Lots of tension. "I am the commander of this vessel!" Great line! 5 stars
11/12/10 Jeff Wilder Excellent in providing tension. 4 stars
12/01/06 David Pollastrini very well done 5 stars
8/11/06 Sepi53 Super hyper great film of Gene and Denzel! 5 stars
6/08/06 Peggy Doty Great 5 stars
5/25/06 saw Denzel Washington made Denzel look stupid. see the movie! 5 stars
2/21/05 Captain Craig Two powerful actors face off for and all time ego contest. One of the best ever 5 stars
1/31/05 Lance Wright Best Cold War movie made. Terrific score as well. 5 stars
5/31/04 Gregor Hackman/Denzel great, movie so-so 3 stars
2/25/04 john pretty solid submarine movie clearly elevated by Hackman and Washington 4 stars
3/21/03 Graeme Sutcliffe this movie is fukin crap 1 stars
11/27/02 patrick mighty fine. 4 stars
10/24/02 Jim Boyce On A Par With The Hunt For Red October 5 stars
12/09/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Sometimes boring, sometimes good. 3 stars
11/09/01 R.W. Welch Okay Cold War drama; writing sometimes does not ring authentic. 3 stars
10/21/01 Shams Huque Fine film...Great musical score by Hans Zimmer. His best. 5 stars
2/03/01 Not Important This is one of the greats. Along with Hunt for Red October, Das Boot, and U571. 5 stars
12/29/00 Tara Lynn Dosado My absolute favorite movie. 5 stars
11/29/00 Cristopher Revilla intense flick, will keep you in the edge of your seat 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin I love it. The musical score is fabulous 5 stars
6/25/99 David Keech Two great actors are given a fairly compelling script. The result is a fun movie to watch. 4 stars
6/09/99 Elizaveta I LOVE the music! 5 stars
2/18/99 Piz Denzel and Hackman are great...never wanted to see a fight so bad since Rocky! 4 stars
11/22/98 little jerry Best submarine film ever made.Much better than DAS BOOT.Washington & Hackman are superb. 4 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob How obvious can rewritten chunks of a script be...??? Check this out! 3 stars
9/06/98 Admiral Mung Bean Soda (+/- 12db) I can't remember much about this at all. I always get it confused with Red October. 2 stars
9/05/98 Jon Sucked compared to The Rock 1 stars
9/04/98 Badass A tense and extremely well-acted action movie. 5 stars
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  12-May-1995 (R)
  DVD: 16-May-2006


  12-Jun-1995 (M)

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