When a Soviet captain commanding a first strike nuclear submarine decides to defect, C.I.A. analyst Jack Ryan is sent in to prevent disaster at the hands of the pursuing Russian forces.
Alec Baldwin was always a bit of an also-ran as an action star, but his lone outing as Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan is also easily the best. He is perfectly cast as an academic unwillingly sent out into the field, but it is obviously Sean Connery’s towering presence that makes the film. The two head a very strong cast in this attempt at cinematic Glastnost, as for the first time in a long time the simplistic gung-ho flag-waving of the 1980’s is left behind and the Russians are shown as human beings, not the fanatical warmongers they had been portrayed as in Hollwood movies thus far. John McTiernan also provides some very slick direction making the battles below the waves ooze tension and excitement which is no mean feat as by their very nature, submarine dramas can become very stodgy and dull.
Well played all round with a great combination of humour, action and cold war conspiracy, The Hunt For Red October is still one of the best underwater adventures around.