The Hunt for Red October Review and Blu-ray Features
The Hunt for Red October
2 Mar 1990
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Is this movie based on a book?
Yes. The Hunt for Red October is a 1984 novel by American author Tom Clancy. It was inspired by two real events: (1) the deviation of a Soviet Navy submarine to Gotland in 1961 by Captain Jonas Pleskys (a Lithuanian), and (2) a 1975 mutiny aboard the Soviet frigate Storozhevoy, which was an attempt to defect to Gotland by Captain Valery Sablin. Clancy’s novel was adapted for the movie by screenwriters Larry Ferguson and Donald Stewart.
Why did Ramius want to defect?
Two reasons. Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) wanted to defect because of the circumstances surrounding his wife’s death one year ago. What happened to his wife is not shown in the movie but talked about in depth in the book. She was killed because the corruption of the Soviet system allowed a drunk doctor (the son of a Politburo member) to operate on her with poor quality drugs and, as a result, she died from a simple operation. This showed Ramius the corruption of the Soviet system. The other reason is that Marko hates the cold war, its cost on the lives of him and his men, and above all else he wants to avoid a real war. Marko knows that the Red October was created as a “first strike” weapon to get a first nuclear strike on America in event of a war, and therefore give them a significant advantage in the war and increase the odds of it happening. When Marko and his friend are talking about what they want for the future, Marko talks about the peace he enjoyed when fishing as a young man. Marko states earlier that he came up with his plan (to defect) when he saw the plans for the Red October. He steals the Red October to prevent the Russian government from being able to use it to start a war.
How did Jack Ryan figure out that Ramius was attempting to defect?
The American bigwigs knew that Ramius sent a letter to his wife’s uncle, Admiral Yuri Illyich Padorin, after which the majority of the Soviet naval force was ordered to hunt down the Red October and destroy it. Their first assumption was that Ramius was a rogue, intending to attack the U.S. under his own volition. Then Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) remembered that it was the first anniversary of Ramius’ wife’s death. It dawned on Ryan that another explanation for Ramius taking a course for the American coast and for the Soviet fleet to issue orders to destroy the sub was because the letter Ramius sent to Padorin contained his intention to defect.
Why did Ramius kill that guy right after they read their orders?
That guy Ivan Putin (played by Peter Firth) was Ramius’ political officer and the only one that Ramius had not personally handpicked for his defecting inner circle. Since the political officer knew what the original orders were and would have recognized as fake the orders that Ramius subsequently substituted, Ramius had to dispense with him.
Was the saboteur a KGB agent?
The book explains this a bit better than the movie. Loginov (Tomas Arana), the saboteur/cook, was GRU (Glavnoje Razvedyvatel’noje Upravlenije), which is Russian Military Intelligence. He was secretly assigned to the Red October on her maiden voyage and remained under cover as a cook’s assistant. This is hinted at early in the film. When Ramius is speaking with his Political Officer, he says“How many agents did the KGB put aboard my boat?” to which the officer responds “…If the KGB or the GRU has agents aboard, I would be the last to know.”.
How did Loginov know about Ramius’ plan?
The novel reveals that before leaving Murmansk, Loginov was briefed by his military intelligence superiors on the details of the Red October‘s official orders (that it was to rendezvous with the Konovolov). Thus, when Ramius announced over the ship’s P.A. system that their orders were to sail to New York to conduct missile drills, there was a shot of Loginov in the galley with a perplexed look on his face. This was a subtle foreshadow that Loginov knows that the real orders were not being followed. That announcement, coupled with the “accidental” death of the political officer and then witnessing Ramius removing and keeping the second missile key, compelled Loginov to sabotage the caterpillar drive.
Why did Ryan ask for a cigarette when he boarded the Red October? He doesn’t smoke.
The exchange of cigarettes between military men in the field is often seen in films as a sign of good will.
RT/Meta Critic Review
The Hunt for Red October is a happy cinematic event, the first motion picture that allows us to experience the sweaty-palm thrills of the Cold War …(Click here to see)
Based on Tom Clancy`s phenomenally successful techno-thriller novel, The Hunt for Red October proves that a film can equal, if not surpass, the intrigue and excitement of the story it is based on. (Click here to see)
If you are familiar with John McTiernan’s work, particularly Predator, you know that grain plays an important role in the look of some of his films, and a heavy amount of grain is visible on this transfer, too. The film is a rather dark one that takes place in dimly lit interiors, both in and out of submarines, with no dazzling use of colors, and the look is true to the source. Still, colors are a bit more eye-popping than I have seen them before, even if they are generally dull as a rule. When the “Pavarotti” story is being told early in the film, the colors on the buttons next to the storyteller are brighter and more vibrant than I’ve ever noticed them before. Likewise, the various colored adornments on uniforms — particularly gold — stand out as better defined and clear than in previous editions. The print shows some black speckles, pops, and debris, along with a few vertical black lines here and there. Mostly thanks to the original look of the picture, detail level is only moderate. Likewise, definition and clarity don’t necessarily impress. The scene where Ryan gives a briefing on the Red October in chapter four is one spot where this is evident. The image is soft, somewhat lacking in depth and clarity, and not highly detailed in either the foreground or the background. It still looks fine, far better than any other edition of the film I’ve seen at home (this is the fifth edition I’ve owned — once on VHS, once on LaserDisc, and twice on DVD). The few daylight, well-lit scenes, such as when Ryan leaves the Enterprise in chapter eight, look wonderful, with solid colors, great detail, and a crystal clear image. Skin tones are non-problematic, as are black levels. There is one oddity of note. At the beginning of chapter seven, there are blue lines at the top and bottom of the frame that do not appear on my DTS-DVD copy. All said and done, this is a very true-to-the-source image that is superior to the latest DVD copy I own, but audience expectations need to be set appropriately to enjoy the look this film has to offer in high definition.
The Hunt For Red October submerges listeners with a solid Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless surround soundtrack. One area where The Hunt For Red October excels is in bringing some fantastic choral music to the presentation that, oftentimes, better suits the mood of the film in lieu of a more traditional score. These pleasing and exciting choral pieces heard throughout the film sound better than ever in lossless audio, filling the entirety of the listening area with sonic delight. Underwater sequences are also well-reproduced. The sound of the submarine moving underwater from rear to front in chapter one offers fine panning and sonic clarity. The first time we are taken inside the Red October in chapter two, we quickly feel like a member of the crew as a robust use of the entire soundstage perfectly recreates the sound of a bustling ship. Voices, footsteps on the deck, and other sounds flow from every speaker, all distinctly and clearly. While in the submarines, the constant hum of the engine is heard all around us, truly placing us inside these most deadly of weapons. Likewise, when Ryan arrives at the ship yard in chapter three, we are instantly transported there thanks to the engulfing sound of work, machinery, and voices that immerse the soundstage and turn your living room into a bustling, busy work area. When Jack’s plane lands on the Enterprise in chapter five, we can feel the impact of the landing gear on the flight deck. Gunshots ring out with fine volume and clarity, and the impacts and ricochets on various items on the Red Octoberthat “don’t react well to bullets” react well with your sound system; the effect fills every speaker with action and excitement. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and precise. Once you listen to The Hunt For Red October in lossless audio, you’ll never go back to your obsolete DVD edition ever again.
The Hunt For Red October surfaces on Blu-ray with a rather small and uninspiring supplemental package that offers the same extras as found on the “Special Collector’s Edition” DVD of several years back. A feature-length commentary with director John McTiernan is first. His is a rather dry commentary that provides solid information but drags on and is plagued by long stretches of silence. This one is skippable. Beneath the Surface (480p, 29:00) is a solid feature and the best on the disc. The program begins with the origins of the film, going back to the optioning of the book by Mace Neufeld and moving onto the difficulty of transitioning such an in-depth novel to the screen, searching for the right actor to play Jack Ryan and others, and moving on to the difficulty of shooting particular scenes in the movie, among other things. Finally, the film’s theatrical trailer (1080p, 1:41) concludes this all-too-short supplemental package.