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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 EricDSnider

"It's just O-K."
3 stars

"K-19: The Widowmaker" causes me to swell with pride and patriotism for the Communist Party and the Motherland.

No, wait, that's what it would do if I were Russian. As an American, I think, "Huh. So the Soviets had some trouble with their first nuclear submarine, back during the Cold War. How about that."

This movie, directly competently by Kathryn Bigelow, is playing to the wrong audience. Americans are not liable to be enthralled by an overlooked chapter in Russian history, unless it's portrayed in an especially enthralling manner, which is this not. This is standard stuff-goes-wrong-and-the-whole-crew-might die fare, with an attitude about it that we ought to care just because it's based on a true story. A true story that happened to another nation that doesn't even exist anymore.

It is 1961, and the Cold War is tense. The United States has submarines within striking distance of Moscow and Leningrad. The Russians want to launch test missiles from their new submarine, K-19, with the assumption JFK's spy planes will see it and the U.S. will get the message that it ought not make the first strike against the Soviet Union.

The commander of K-19 is Capt. Polenin (Liam Neeson), but when he can't whip his crew into shape fast enough for the over-demanding higher-ups, he's replaced with Capt. Vostrikov (Harrison Ford), who is as cold and dispassionate as they come. He works the crew through rigorous drills to ensure their readiness if the time comes. Since a full hour of the movie is spent on these drills, you can be assured the time will come, though it's not enough to justify having spent an hour on all those scenes of pretending to put out fires, pretending to launch missiles, etc.

If the idea of Harrison Ford as a Russian sounds bad, you're right. He only does the Russian accent on about every other word, though. Overall, he sounds like Harrison Ford doing a bad Russian accent. His character is distant and unknowable, too -- one of his least charismatic roles to date. Liam Neeson, a bit more trained in the methods of acting, doesn't do much better at inspiring sympathy from the audience or at the Russian accent.

This is a film of men -- not a single female in the cast -- doing manly things like fixing reactor cores and such, but darned if there is ever much tension beyond the basic question of who will live and who will die. These aren't people; these are shadowy figures in a murky story whose lives are not particularly meaningful to us.

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originally posted: 07/20/02 03:00:40
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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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