DVD Review
by Kevin Carr

    MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
    DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)

    Denzel Washington as RON HUNTER
    Gene Hackman as FRANK RAMSEY
    George Dzundza as CHIEF OF THE BOAT
    Viggo Mortensen as PETER “WEAPS” INCE
    James Gandolfini as BOBBY DOUGHERTY
    Matt Craven as ROY ZIMMER

    Not Rated
    Studio: Hollywood Pictures

    Directed by: Tony Scott
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The 1990s was a great time for Jerry Bruckheimer fans. It was when he exploded onto the film scenes and redefined action films for a new generation. He carried on his tradition of grooming directors for major theatrical release. This started in the 1980s, and one of his earliest collaborators was Tony Scott.

Over their careers, Scott teamed with Bruckheimer for five feature films. One of them was “Crimson Tide,” one of the last tales of the Cold War to hit American screens. Soon afterwards, Islamic terrorists took the place of public enemy number one, and the crumbled Soviet threat became a memory.

“Crimson Tide” is a story of mutiny and tension under the ocean on what could be the dawn of World War III. Denzel Washington plays Ron Hunter, the new Executive Officer on the USS Alabama. Gene Hackman plays Frank Ramsey as the submarine commander who has control over more than a dozen nuclear warheads. The Alabama is deployed into Russian waters as a possible preemptive strike on old Soviet nuclear silos that fall into rebel hands.

While on the mission, the sub receives orders to launch the missiles. Moments later, another message starts to come through, but it is cut off by an attack from another sub. What’s left is a struggle of wills between Hunter, who thinks they need to verify the second message before launch, and Ramsey, who wants to follow the original order to launch.

Tony Scott can direct action, there’s no doubt about that. And as submarine movies go, “Crimson Tide” has all the elements in the right place. It’s also a treat to watch Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman – great actors from different eras – square off on screen. As a raw action film, “Crimson Tide” works very well.

The only problem is that when all is said and done, it does send the wrong message. There’s a nobility in Hunter’s defiance of his commanding officer. And while he has a certain point, he violates procedure and protocol to a degree that would be disastrous in the field.

This is not to say that a nuclear launch should be taken lightly. Only a select few have the awesome power of these weapons at their fingertips, and that in itself is scary. However, it sends a chill down my spine that there could be a breakdown in protocol that could cripple our defense – or our offense.

Ultimately, “Crimson Tide” opens us up to some questions we would rather not contemplate. I don’t know what the full Naval procedure is to launch nuclear weapons, but I hope to God it’s more structured and fail-safe than what we see in this film.

This new unrated DVD is pretty slim on special features. There’s several deleted scenes as well as two behind-the-scenes featurette. Not having seen the rated version of this film, I don’t know how it differs, but I didn’t see too much in here that would have pushed the R rating.

Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. English subtitles for the hearing impaired.

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