Ever since I was younger, I’ve been obsessed with Gerard Butler. I saw him first in the Phantom of the Opera, and I’ve seen most of his films ever since. Yet I wasn’t really aware of a new film coming out. Apparently, there wasn’t so much buzz around Hunter Killer. Apart from Butler and Gary Oldman, there are no big-name actors who star in the film, which could be a factor. Anyway, I thought I had made a reservation for Bad Times At The El Royale, but I got the date wrong. Hunter Killer was the next film playing. I did not have any high expectations, but hey, it was Gerard. While his more recent films haven’t been all that memorable, I found them all enjoyable. But is Hunter Killer, his latest flick, a hit or a miss? Let’s take a look.
What is it about?
Taken from RottenTomatoes:
Deep under the Arctic Ocean, American submarine Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler, Olympus Has Fallen, 300) is on the hunt for a U.S. sub in distress when he discovers a secret Russian coup is in the offing, threatening to dismantle the world order. Captain Glass must now assemble an elite group of Navy SEALs to rescue the kidnapped Russian president and sneak through enemy waters to stop WWIII.
The plot is nothing revolutionary. Let’s be fair, we’ve seen Butler save presidents before. At the beginning of the film, everything moved so fast that I wasn’t quite sure what the hell was going on. Sure, there was a coup, but the storytelling lacked in the first half and there wasn’t enough action or tension to make it interesting. That said, the second half of the film picked up the pace. The crew was underwater for most of that part and the tension rose. It wasn’t until that moment that I truly started to care about what was happening. Butler does a great job at leading those intense scenes and he commits wholeheartedly to his role in those moments. The Navy SEALs tasked to rescue the president were a whole different story. At the end of the film, I did not even remember their names. Sure, their action sequences were exciting, although it consisted mainly of men shooting at each other. When tragedy struck our Navy SEALs, I found myself not even caring. This is not the kind of film that wants you to care, but still. There was zero character development in favour of constant action.
It’s a little tame
The film is about a rather controversial subject, namely the relationship between the US and Russia. The film never quite goes the distance and make a statement. On one hand, that’s great because it shows a better universe in which these two countries could potentially be friendly. On the other hand, it makes it feel like there is never really anything at stake. Butler’s character Joe Glass prefers the nice approach which does work out in the end. At the same time, Oldman’s character (I didn’t even recognise him until I looked up the cast), yells at Glass for not firing at the Russians. The film remains on the shallow ground. While it does its job as a popcorn thriller, it never quite excels and becomes anything more than that.
Hunter Killer is hardly a memorable action thriller, but it’s entertaining enough to pass as watchable. Although its plot is paper-thin, it is there and the actors are committed enough to their roles to make it work.