1961年に現実に起きたソ連原子力潜水艦K-19内の放射線漏れ事故を基に、実力派俳優 ハリソン・フォード、リーアム・ニーソン共演で繰りひろげられるサスペンス映画。 軍や党の使命の遂行のために対立する2人の艦長。 その狭間で悲しみと恐怖に打ちひしがれる乗組員達の姿は涙をそそる。 手に汗握るスリルとまでは行かないまでも、冷戦時代の秘話がここに映像化された興味ある一作だ。
This story which hasn’t been told for the past 28 years finally unfolds on the screen. The film is based on an actual Soviet submarine accident in 1961, when the US and the Soviet Union were mutually challenging each other’s nuclear power. To head off the US nuclear threat, the Soviet submarine, K-19 equipped with nuclear weapons goes on its first voyage to sea to test-launch missiles. While the submarine is out on its mission off the coast of the US, it faces an unexpected disaster; a nuclear reactor leakage. Panic-stricken crew are compelled to sacrifice their lives by going into the reactor core area to repair the damage, despite the fear of radiation poisoning. If the leakage spreads, the core could start overheating, causing a meltdown, leading to a nuclear explosion with the possibility of engaging a nearby US navy destroyer and thus, the outbreak of World War III. Tensions building in the closed space gradually replace the noble mission, and the captains and the crew bond together in perfect comradeship to prevent this imminent crisis.
The movie portrays not only the panic happening in the claustrophobic environment of the submarine but also the human drama of the two captains and the crew involved. It starts out showing a series of ominous accidents even before the submarine sets off from port, which is very suggestive of the subtitle, The Widowmaker, implying they are not expected to come back alive. The lack of agility in the first half of the movie somehow fails to culminate in the panicking scene of the crew tackling the crisis. The humane aspects of the two captains and the crew do not fail to stir our deep compassion. The beloved Captain Polenin (Liam Neeson), and his crew cannot hide their frustration toward the never-yielding, stern attitude of Captain Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) who mercilessly pushes them to the limit, exposing them to the utmost danger. But the tension between Captain Polenin, his men and Captain Vostrikov eventually dissolves into comradeship when Captain Vostrikov reveals his humane side and deep compassion towards his crew which has been concealed under his iron mask maintained in pursuit of his official duty. I think Captain Vostrikov surely proves himself to be a respectable father figure for his men when he ventures into the reactor core area to save his man.
Heroes in this film are not macho soldiers who go around shooting enemies, but the life size crew who find themselves trapped in the fear of nuclear explosion and manage to muster their courage to sacrifice their lives to save others. It is a real shame that history has not born witness to these brave men and honored their efforts, nor been commemorated by the Soviet government simply because this did not take place during war time.
Though this film lacks overall agility without any spectacular breathtaking scenes commonly seen in submarine movies, I still find it very interesting in that this film depicts a historical crisis which could not have been revealed during the cold war era. However, I must admit that Harrison Ford, an all-American actor, does not correspond well to the character of the stern, tough Soviet military man. Regardless of these points, it is definitely worth checking out the film to feel a threatening moment of world crisis.