Hunter Killer

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Kristin Smith

Movie Review

All it takes is one evil madman to ruin it for everyone. Then again, it only takes one hero to save the day.

Joe Glass spends most of his time hunting and living a low-key life off the grid. He’s very good at what he does: stalking his prey. But when the U.S. military calls, he’s ready to respond.

Glass is the government’s somewhat unconventional choice to command the USS Arkansas, a hunter killer submarine—the kind of vessel that stealthily stalks others of its kind. His mission? Discover what became of an American sub that vanished in the Arctic.

That task is hard enough. But Glass and his crew soon swim into a much bigger mission as this sub story unfolds. And it’s not long before they’re working with Navy SEALs to extract the embattled Russian president from a coup … risking everything to prevent the next world war.

Positive Elements

When we first meet Joe Glass, it’s clear that he’s considered a nobody. A loner. But the choice to promote him to commander of the USS Arkansas proves a wise one. Glass has what it takes to get the job done: character, loyalty, resilience and tactical smarts.

Glass is brave, determined and capable, calling difficult shots when others won’t take necessary risks. He gradually wins his crew’s trust, even though some of his choices seem reckless. Glass also models what it means to serve sacrificially. When confronted with difficult choices involving the enemy, he admirably seeks to preserve human rights and to tear down racially charged barriers.

We see other sailors and soldiers who risk their lives to accomplish their increasingly complex mission. That’s especially obvious when some characters return for men who are left behind at one point. And at least some members of the United States and Russian governments are willing to work together and seek peace … though that’s not true of all of them (hence the rest of the movie).

Spiritual Elements

None.

Sexual Content

Sailors are briefly seen shirtless and in their boxers as they rush to prepare for battle. Someone jokes about incest.

Violent Content

As you’d expect in a movie like this, we see quite a bit of combat and warfare. Submarines, military vehicles and buildings get blown up. Torpedoes reverberate through the ocean; bullets tear through surfaces; bombs and mines detonate. At one crucial point, battles ensue on land and in water simultaneously, with both sailors and soldiers involved. We also hear death threats and witness standoffs that threaten to unleash an apocalyptic nuclear conflagration.

U.S. Navy SEALs practice with firearms for a top-secret mission. When the actual mission begins, they kill and injure many Russian soldiers. Multiple soldiers and officials die in combat. Blood splatters as men are killed, and some of that brutal combat is depicted quite realistically and graphically.

An evil Russian warlord has his own people executed; we see them shot in the head from afar, and their bodies are then dumped into the water. Dead bodies float in the ocean as well. A paratrooper soldier is injured during his jump. A sailor is nearly crushed as a torpedo falls onto his body and traps him underwater. Some sailors suffer from hypothermia.

An evil admiral attempts to dispose of any Russian operatives who stand in his way (executing violent orders and trying to kill his own sailors in order to spark a war). Sailors admit that they’re afraid to die and feel isolated as they engage in underwater battles. Cmdr. Glass talks to his crew about missing his father’s funeral and working alongside many men who have died.

Crude or Profane Language

God’s name is misued about 10 times, most of which uses are paired with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is misued at least three times. The f-word and s-word are both used four times. Other vulgarities include frequent uses of “a–,” “jacka–,” “a–hole,” “p-ssed,” “h—,” “d–n,” “d–mit,” “b–ch,” “p—y” and “nuts.”

Drug and Alcohol Content

Cmdr. Glass tells a sailor to look for fellow sailors in nearby pubs.

Other Negative Elements

In an attempt to control and frame the Russian president, an evil admiral blocks all means of communication and sequesters various officials.

Cmdr. Glass technically makes some decisions that violate his orders; that said, the film also invites us to see those choices as necessary to prevent war.

Conclusion

Have you ever thought that a movie was both too long and too short? As this one got underway, I wanted more backstory, more details, more understanding of what motivated these guys—especially Cmdr. Glass, played by Gerard Butler.

But about halfway through, something else happened: I started to think about when Hunter Killer was going to be over. That’s because once the main plot pieces are set in motion, you wonder how many explosions and expletives you’re going to have to endure before the credits finally roll.

Don’t misunderstand me: Gerard Butler, his crew and the enemies are fairly compelling. Tangible suspense hangs in the air, and characters make heroic, praiseworthy and sacrificial choices. And it’s nice that the filmmakers chose not to toss in any gratuitous sexual content, either, as so often happens in R-rated films. Overall, the film gave me a renewed sense of thankfulness for those who fiercely protect our country.

But the plot wasn’t as convincing as I would have liked. And this underwater actioner definitely didn’t need to be rated R. If the moviemakers could have dialed back the harsh language and bloody violence just a couple of notches, perhaps more potential viewers would consider taking the plunge with Hunter Killer.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).