It's been 30 years since the film release of Tom Clancy's "The Hunt for Red October." The movie was a huge theatrical hit and launched a series of successful films that have led to the current hit television series on Amazon.
While Harrison Ford may be the most popular movie Jack Ryan and Alec Baldwin may be the least loved actor to play the role, "The Hunt for Red October" is definitely the best movie in the series and the one that portrays CIA analyst Ryan in a spirit that's closest to the character in Clancy's books.
Baldwin may be opinionated, boorish and convinced that he's the smartest guy in any room, but that also sounds like a pretty good description of Clancy's Jack Ryan. They made a good pair.
Still, the movie belongs to Sean Connery as Soviet submarine commander Capt. Marko Ramius. He's a man with a conscience, and only Ryan understands that Ramius wants to defect rather than start World War III.
Ryan may be the smartest guy in the room, but he's not the most tactful. The same is true for Ramius. Their stubborn insistence on being right makes for some iconic movie moments.
Here are five of the best from "The Hunt for Red October":
1. Jack's mouth writes a check that his ass is forced to cash.
After Ryan insists that he's the only man who really knows what Ramius is up to, National Security Adviser Dr. Jeffrey Pelt (Richard Jordan) decides to send the CIA analyst into the field to either prove his theory or live with the consequences of its failure. This is not a great moment for the loudmouthed desk jockey.
2. Never doubt a true captain.
Granted, the Soviet submarine crew is on edge because their captain has offed their intelligence officer and abandoned their mission, but Ramius is still the man who knows this sub best and he's not going to make an evasive move until the ideal moment. There's a lot of talking in "The Hunt for Red October," but the action scenes are spectacular when they do arrive.
3. International Summit on a Submarine.
When the Americans board the Red October, Ryan and Ramius meet. It's not the first time but Ryan must reintroduce himself to the Soviet commander as Ramius tries to measure the man who's been sent to suss him out. The two men cautiously circle one another as they try to figure each other's true intentions.
4. Combat tactics.
Ramius can see things that leave both his crew and the Americans baffled. When a torpedo is fired at the Red October while Ryan, U.S. Navy Capt. Bart Mancuso (Scott Glenn) and U.S. Navy Seaman Jones (Courtney B. Vance) are aboard, the Soviet commander makes a heart-stopping decision that only Mancuso can understand but not until after the incident leaves the sub unscathed.
5. At heart, it's a buddy picture.
After all the suspense, the American CIA analyst and the Lithuanian submarine commander have learned to respect each other. As they sail to safety in U.S. waters, the men discuss fishing and the fallout from Ramius' shocking mission. Clancy moved on from this story in his novels, but Hollywood should've figured out a way to reunite Jack and Marko for a sequel.
"The Hunt for Red October" was director John McTiernan's follow-up to "Die Hard," part of an impressive run that also included "Predator," "Last Action Hero," "Die Hard With a Vengeance" and a remake of "The Thomas Crown Affair" before his career got knocked off track after getting himself entangled in an FBI investigation into an unethical Hollywood private investigator.
McTiernan hasn't made a movie since he directed John Travolta's "Basic" in 2003. Rumors periodically surface about a possible comeback, but he's lost almost two decades from a career that could have established him as one of our greatest action directors.
In honor of the film's anniversary, Paramount Home Entertainment has just released a 4K UHD/Blu-ray/Digital steelbook edition of the film to commemorate the anniversary.
It's the first time the movie's been available as a standalone 4K release in the United States, having been issued previously only in the Jack Ryan 5-Film Collection box set. The new release replicates the version from the box set and adds the (very nice) steelbook packaging.
Not every movie benefits from the 4K upgrade over Blu-ray, but "The Hunt for Red October" definitely benefits from the higher resolution. Since most of the movie is set in dark and cramped submarines, the image was never going to be flashy, but the 4K transfer highlights details in the low-light quarters that never really show up on the Blu-ray.
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