K-19: The Widowmaker

The intriguing novelty in this cold war thriller, based on a true story, is that we perceive everything from the Russian viewpointthough the fact that the two leading Russian characters are played by Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson somewhat undercuts this strategy. In 1961 in the North Atlantic, the reactor on the first Soviet nuclear ballistic submarine malfunctions during its first trip out, and the big question is how far the tyrannical captain (Ford) will go in sacrificing his men to prevent a nuclear explosion that could set off a world war. Kathryn Bigelow, who’s shown her gifts as an action director on other occasions, does a competent job with a hokey if serviceable script by Louis Nowra and Christopher Kyle. Perhaps the post-cold-war attitudes behind this film are progressive, but the old prenuclear worship of the military goes all but unchallenged. With Peter Sarsgaard and Ingvar E. Sigurosson. 138 min. (JR)

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