There’s not much hunting, but a whole lot of killing in Hunter Killer; the subject is submarines in modern warfare, and Gerry Butler is the man with the answers. He’s Commander Joe Glass, a maverick who doesn’t play by the rules; he does things HIS way! Pretty much everything about Joe is a cliché, but Donovan Marsh’s thriller attempts to make up for in incident what it lacks in originality.
Glass takes command of the American USS Arkansas at the Faslane nuclear base in Scotland; he’s sent on a secret mission deep into the Arctic where another submarine has gone missing. Glass teams up with Russian sub Konek and captain Sergei Andropov (the late Michael Nvqvist) to foil a Russian coup d’etat and rescue the deposed Russian president, while back in the US, weasely Admiral Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman) watches as the action escalates.
Oldman is playing a character who ducks responsibility, but he seems to take the role quite literally, rarely clearly in shot and usually scurrying out of frame; rarely has an actor looked like they didn’t actually want to be in a film. Given the big-sized manliness on show, that’s no surprise; Hunter Killer is a beefy Tom Clancy-type thriller that takes no prisoners. The action is decent when it comes, but unfortunately the star is stuck in a tin can for most of it.
Even before the pandemic, it was a modern phenomena that big, reality-based action movies (Mile 22, Patriot’s Day, Deepwater Horizon) were struggling to find an audience; Hunter Killer’s straightforward, gung-ho action should pick up a few fans on streaming, with Butler a gruff centre and plenty of passable entertainment to be drained from the hair-trigger plotline.