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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.89%
Worth A Look: 20.83%
Pretty Bad: 4.17%
Total Crap: 13.89%

6 reviews, 36 user ratings

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K-19: The Widowmaker
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by Chris Parry

"Better than U-571, but a long way from Das Boot."
3 stars

Kathryn Bigelow's big budget Russki sub drama, K-19: The Widowmaker, suffers from two major problems, and only two. Firstly, Bigelow infuses the entire flick, from start to finish, with a non-stop orchestral score that had me reaching to turn off a non-existent radio at least eight times, and the entire storyline seems to lead up to a major stand-off between the Russki's and Yankees... which never actually happens. Essentially, this is a 'can we fix the nuclear reactor' movie masquerading as a complex drama. It's not complex at all, it's merely a matter of how many disposable crewmen are going to get their asses singed before said sub go boom.

Ford plays a Soviet sub captain sent in to helm the K-19, a new sub that has yet to be tested, and has many facilites left either uninstalled or misinstalled. Essentially, the tub is a deathtrap, but in order to get it in the water on time, the Party wants no delays - like testing or completing the actual building of the thing.

So here we have a hundred Russian lads, Liam Neeson, Harrison Ford and a submarine that leaks more than a Hollywood publicity department, being propelled by a nuclear reactor that seems to be held together with duct tape. What do YOU think happens next?

That's right, radiation leak. But do the Russkis do the smart thing and simply ask the American boat a mile away for help, or do they fart about trying to fix things with a faulty hammer, a bent sickle, and a handful of thumb tacks, while they roast themselves to a radioactive crisp?

Harrison Ford doesn't let the side down in this drama, but he doesn't really push himself to hitherto unseen heights of thespianic briliance. He never has. He just says his lines and sells tickets.

Liam Neeson, on the other hand, is top of the line from start to finish. His is perhaps the only three dimensional character in this entire film, perhaps because he's the only actor in the cast that doesn't think 'soviet' equals wooden. Some of these guys are barely a step away from sprouting leaves. With a litle sandpaper, some polish and a bit of woodworking know-how, Ford could be a great end-table.

But the real issue stopping K-19 from being a film you could readily recommend to others is the ridiulously loud, always present orchestral score than punctuates every single scene. When the reactor is melting and Ford doesn't know what to do and the entire crew is waiting for his words, you'll seriously want to beat the living hell out of the diva singing opera over the top of the whole thing. Why is Hollywood so scared to leave the actors to do their work without background music telling the audience how to think? We're really not THAT stupid, you know.

In summation, if submarine dramas are your thing, try Das Boot, as it's still the be all and end all of underwater drama. While K-19 beats the tar out of U-571, it could just as easily been a land-based flick, or even a 22 minute segment on 20/20. It's certaily a dark, dramatic affair, and the fact that it's based on real events does turn the tummy a touch, but that's not to say it's worth a theater ticket - or even a new release rental.

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originally posted: 09/03/02 08:53:15
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User Comments

10/05/18 morris campbell good movie nothing more 4 stars
2/21/12 hurdygurdy man This was a good movie - case closed. 4 stars
1/28/07 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
11/02/05 millersxing Very moving sequences depicting comaraderie forged through surviving disaster. 4 stars
5/31/05 Dan FUCKING GREAT 5 stars
4/17/05 Cary Gordon Strives for realism but sacrifices watchability at points.Das Boot, it's not. 3 stars
8/19/04 courtney love it 5 stars
6/03/04 Angel Accurate science (former Nuclear Engineer), good performances. Good script. 4 stars
12/11/03 john uninspired bore - waste of a good premise 2 stars
7/17/03 foo lin you chicken tastes nice 4 stars
12/29/02 Jack Sommersby Underrated, phenomenal adventure. Ford's perf is a career-best. 4 stars
12/27/02 Gary I wonder about the technical accuracy of the movie. Crippled reactors melt down and make 3 stars
12/22/02 Yelena Parshina The movie is about Spirit and Duty, thank God it's not about Bad guys and Good guys. 5 stars
11/23/02 Monster W. Kung Not very good. Awful score. 2 stars
11/12/02 Fonq35 The maker of this movie was clearly high on a cocktail of drugs and excessive ass-knocking 1 stars
10/20/02 Flounder Who cares if it is not the Armageddon movie that people thought it was. This movie is good 5 stars
10/01/02 Pamala Anderson it is funny 1 stars
9/27/02 Marcia Lartz Some vivid insights into cold war realities, with ending putting it in good perspective. 4 stars
8/12/02 senator blutarsky one of the summer's best movies. Ford's accent sux, but the film's good 4 stars
8/08/02 Natalia The best movie! 5 stars
8/07/02 (argue with me I dare) Horrible. The characters don't require the plot to be dynamic! 1 stars
8/06/02 KMG Pretty cool 4 stars
7/31/02 hbotis Boring and bombastic. The score swamped every frame. Total waste of Liam Neeson. 1 stars
7/26/02 titaliwink Kinda boring but grows into goodness. 4 stars
7/25/02 Human Shield This movie shows what true heroism is. I am glad to know what happened. 5 stars
7/25/02 R.W. Welch Dramatically embroidered but generally well-done account of Soviet N-Sub mishap. 4 stars
7/25/02 Landfish Great movie and really entertaining. How many secrets like this one are not told? 4 stars
7/25/02 wintermute A completely unmemorable film. In 3 weeks I will have no memory of any details. 3 stars
7/24/02 Willy I was disappointed. A somewhat depressing movie I thought. 3 stars
7/23/02 Julie Atwood Damn proud of the crew of the K-19! 5 stars
7/22/02 poetchuck Interesting 4 stars
7/21/02 Joe Doe At least the Russians dared to show the true problem unlike crap like Pearl Harbor. 5 stars
7/21/02 Lesya very brave ideas for "still cold war driven" America, every detail seems truly Russian 5 stars
7/21/02 Dinigo Aswold I expected to HATE it, but was surprisingly tense, nerve-wracking, & well-done. Excellent 5 stars
7/20/02 spaceworm A solid entry in the sub-genre. 4 stars
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  19-Jul-2002 (PG-13)



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