"In November of 1984, shortly before Gorbachev came to power, a Typhoon-class Soviet sub surfaced just south of the Grand Banks.The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 film adaptation of the novel of the same name, directed by John McTiernan. It stars Sean Connery, playing the Lithuanian captain Marko Ramius, and Alec Baldwin, playing Jack Ryan.It's a Cold War tale of the fictional "Typhoon" class missile submarine Krasniy Oktyabr ("Red October"). The sub has an experimental magnetohydrodynamic propulsion system (more easily referred to as Caterpillar Drive), which allows it to run more quietly than any other ship at sea; effectively making it nigh-invisible to SONAR detection. On its first deployment, Captain Marko Ramius murders his political officer, taking his set of keys for the October's nuclear missiles. Conspiring with his senior officers, Ramius notifies his crew that they will be testing the ship by evading both the U.S. and Soviet navies to reach the eastern coast of the United States itself...Not desiring to lose their sub or the secret of the Caterpillar Drive, the Soviets send their surface and attack-sub fleets after it, an amount of activity that's suspicious to the other side.The Americans must find the sub before it is destroyed, assuming that CIA analyst Jack Ryan is right that the officers plan to defect — as opposed to just unilaterally launching their missiles...The Typhoon-class submarine is real, and the largest submarine in the world. The submarine in the story, though, is quite considerably different to its real-life counterpart, to the point where they can't really be considered the same vessel, mainly because of its fictional "silent" propulsion system and due to a lot of details of the Typhoons having been classified at the time. On the other hand, the film maintains Plausible Deniability by specifically stating it to be a prototype variant of its class, and at least alludes to future Soviet political instability as a good reason why they never got around to producing more.
It then sank in deep water, apparently suffering a radiation problem. Unconfirmed reports indicated some of the crew were rescued.
But according to repeated statements by both Soviet and American governments,
nothing of what you are about to see... ever happened."
It then sank in deep water, apparently suffering a radiation problem. Unconfirmed reports indicated some of the crew were rescued.
But according to repeated statements by both Soviet and American governments,
nothing of what you are about to see... ever happened."
— Text sketch over the opening scene
The film contains examples of:
- 0% Approval Rating: The Political Officer. "The man was a pig," quoth Victor Slavin, who has no objections to his murder.
- Ambiguously Evil: The movie raises the possibility that Ramius has gone mad and is intending to start WWIII, e.g. when he confiscates both keys needed to launch the missiles (this is rejected early in the novel, as five officers are needed to launch the missiles, and their range is such they could have done so the moment Red October left harbour). The Soviets later claim this in order to get the Americans to sink Red October, so dramatic tension is then created by Ryan trying to convince Mancuso that Ramius is genuine.
- Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene:
- During the first "Crazy Ivan" scene, the tense shots of the Dallas waiting to see if Red October hears them are intercut with a quiet conversation between Ramius and Borodin about their defection, with Borodin describing his aspirations for an idyllic American lifestyle, and Ramius reminiscing about fishing when he was a boy.
- When Borodin asked Ramius about traveling from state-to-state within the US he was told that "papers" (i.e identification and authorization to travel) were neither required by or even asked for by officials.
- Adaptational Heroism: The movie implies that the real reason for Ramius defecting was less anger and revenge over his wife's avoidable death and more concern over the fact that the Red October's primary purpose would be to start a nuclear war due to its stealth. In that context, Ryan's comments about Ramius's wife mean that he no longer has any reason to go back home.
- Adaptation Distillation: The British participation in the capture of the titular submarine is almost completely excised, and some parts from the movie aren't in the book, but overall the film maintains the spirit and general plot of the source novel.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books Cathy Ryan is a blonde, not a redhead.
- Adaptation Explanation Extrication: When Ryan is trying to convince his superiors that Ramius is defecting to the United States, he mentions that, "today is the first anniversary of his wife's death," leaving it unexplained why this is significant. Putin also makes an offhand reference during his conversation with Ramius, with no further hint as to relevance. It's only in the book that we find out that Ramius's wife died during an operation by a drunken surgeon, who escaped punishment because his father was a high Party official. This led Ramius (in the book) to decide that "the State must be made to pay".
- Aerial Canyon Chase: Red October evades a Soviet sub hunter aircraft by dodging through an underwater canyon with a torpedo in pursuit.
- Age Lift:
- In the novel, Mancuso is said to be in his mid-thirties, young for a command of this level; Scott Glenn, however, was 48 at the time the movie was made.
- Ramius was born in 1941 and so was at most in his mid-forties when the story begins; Sean Connery was pushing sixty when he played the character.
- Almighty Janitor: The cook on the Red October is a skilled spy and loyalist to the USSR.
- Americans Are Cowboys: Ramius worries that his scheme won't work if the captain of the sub that meets them is "some sort of buckaroo", then Mancuso shows up wearing his sidearm:(Ramius sees Mancuso's sidearm and says to Borodin that Mancuso is a бакару [sounds just like the English "buckaroo"]. Ryan laughs.)
Capt. Bart Mancuso: What's so funny?
Jack Ryan: Ah, the Captain seems to think you're some kind of...cowboy.
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba:Seaman Jones: COB, we don't have time for fish stories, okay? I was right in the middle of teaching Seaman Beaumont here the intricacies of modern sonar—
COB: Yeah, and I ain't Chief of the Boat. I'm actually Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.
- Anti-Mutiny: There is a GRU mole aboard the Red October.
- Artistic License – Military: Admiral Painter tells Jack that they'll be in the CIC (combat information center). Aboard American carriers, this is area referred to as the CDC (combat direction center).
- Asshole Victim: Political Officer Putin, according to 2nd. Lt. Victor Slavin:So he was murdered. I have no problem with that. The man was a pig.
- As Himself:
- An interesting variation. The USS Reuben James is played by... the USS Reuben James. What makes it interesting is that the movie takes place a year before she was even commissioned.
- External scenes featuring USS Enterprise also depict the actual Enterprise, identifiable by her unique island design.
- Artistic License – Ships:
- Despite being central to the plot, the "Caterpillar drive" wouldn't create an undetectable sub, as the reactor itself is a significant source of noise from nuclear submarines. The quietest subs in the real world are diesel-electric subs running on (very limited range) batteries for this reason.
- During one scene a torpedo is dropped by a helicopter on a submarine, but then remotely detonated by the helicopter's mothership prior to impact in order to fake the destruction of the sub. This is in reality impossible. The torpedo depicted in the movie is a US Mk 46, and once you have put one in the water—assuming it's working correctly—it will search for and then chase after its target until it either detonates or runs out of fuel.
- Very few Soviet submarines were ever given official names, yet all of the Soviet submarines with viewpoint characters aboard - both the Red October itself and the pursuing Konovalov in the film, as well as a third Soviet submarine in the novel - are named.
- Audience Surrogate:
- Seaman Beaumont early on. Seaman Jones is able to deliver quite a bit of exposition to the audience while training him.
- Once they arrive on the Red October, Jack Ryan takes on this role, having the situation explained to him by Mancuso and Ramius.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Discussed when Jack and Skip Tyler are trying to determine what the mysterious doors on Red October are for.Jack Ryan: They're too big to be torpedo tubes. Could you launch an ICBM horizontally?Skip Tyler: Sure, why would you want to?
- Awesomeness by Analysis: As a sonar operator, Jones is able to determine a lot from sounds.
- When the Red October is engaged by the Konovalev:
- Earlier, not only did Jonesy figure out both the means in which the Red October disappeared, but calculated her most likely heading and figured out a means by which to track her. Mancuso was pissed that he had to break off tracking the Red October to pick Ryan up, just to have Ryan tell him what he already knew.
- Badass Boast:Kamarov: Stop pissing, Yuri. Give me a stopwatch and a map, and I'll fly the Alps in a plane with no windows.Slavin: If the map is accurate enough…
- Badass Bookworm: Jack Ryan: CIA academic and retired Marine, with a doctorate in history. He also speaks Russian.
- Based on a Great Big Lie: Inverted. The film opens with a disclaimer to the effect that, according to American and Soviet authorities, it is absolutely not Based on a True Story. The audience is left to draw their own conclusions.
- The sinking referred to in the opening text is almost certainly that of the K-219, a Yankee-class missile submarinenote which sank in the area stated after an explosion in a missile tube and subsequent fire. Additionally, the original novel has been confirmed to have been loosely based on an incident - briefly mentioned in the novel - involving the Soviet frigate Storozhevoy, in which the political officer led a mutiny in the hope of sparking a second communist revolution.
- Batman Gambit: "How do you get a crew to want to get off a submarine? How do you get a crew to want to get off a nuclear subma--...?"
- Big Damn Heroes: Dallas swoops in to drop a couple of decoys to draw off a torpedo that was targeting the Red October, saving it.Jones: Way to go, Dallas!
- Bilingual Backfire: When the Americans first meet Ramius and his crew, Ramius disparagingly refers to the Americans as "cowboys" due to the holstered pistols they're carrying. Ryan, who speaks Russian, laughs and explains to the Dallas crew members what was just said. This leads to Bilingual Dialogue between Ramius and Ryan, during which Ramius does a Switch to English.
- Bilingual Bonus: The Ominous Russian Chanting backing the awesome reveal of the Red October.
- Blatant Lies: Most of what the Soviet Ambassador tells the Americans, and vice versa.
- Bloodless Carnage: Ryan, armed with Mancuso's pistol, tracks down and corners the GRU mole on the Red October, just as the mole is about to rig one of the torpedos to blow. Ryan is no more than a couple of feet away from the mole when he fires, yet all we see happen to the mole is his body jerk backwards and his hair blown askew.
- Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Ramius standing outside surveying a river.
- Brick Joke: At the very end, Ryan finally falls asleep on a plane. In turbulence. With the bear he promised his daughter at the beginning.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Jack Ryan, first of Admiral Painter, then of Captain Ramius.
- Burning the Ships: Ramius sends a letter to the CO of the Soviet Navy stating that he and his command staff are defecting. When his staff officers ask him why he did it, he cites the example of Cortes' destruction of his ships.Ramius: When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships. As a result, his men were well-motivated.
- CinemaSins review of the movie points out that Cortez did not burn his ships, he sank them, and a man of such culture and education as Ramius would know this.
- Captain ObviousSteiner: Hey, I think someone just shot a torpedo at us!
Mancuso: No shit, buckwheat! Get the hell out of here!
- Casual Danger Dialog: Marko Ramius quizzes Ryan about Ryan's books while a torpedo is homing in on their sub.Ramius: What books did you write?
Ryan: Well, I wrote a biography of Admiral Halsey called The Fighting Sailor, about naval combat tactics.
Ramius: Oh, I know this book. Your conclusions were all wrong, Ryan. Halsey acted stupidly.
- Character as Himself: Stanley the Teddy Bear is listed "as himself" in the end credits.
- Chekhov's Gun: The rescue sub Ryan sees Skip working on in the beginning.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Cook's assistant Loginov, on whom the camera lingers just a bit too long during his first appearance, is actually the GRU mole.
- Chekhov's Lecture: Skip tells Ryan that a sub using a caterpillar drive would register as a "seismic anomaly." Later on, when Ryan hears about the Dallas detecting a "magma displacement" (which would qualify as a seismic anomaly), he realizes that it's the Red October.
- Chromosome Casting: The only two women in the entire cast are Cathy Ryan and the airline stewardess, both of whom are viewed only briefly. Justified in that there were relatively few women in the military at the time, and none serving aboard submarines.
- Coming In Hot: With the aid of anachronistic Stock Footage and Eject...Eject...Eject... instruction heard from the tower, an Enterprise air wing aircraft is shown coming in damaged from a scrap between American and Soviet aircraft.
- Compressed Adaptation: The movie gets rid of the British role entirely, ditches the Feed the Mole sideplot and most of the fleet-level conflict between the U.S. and Soviets, and cuts out most of Clancy's rhapsodizing about the intricacies of sub warfare.
- Cunning Linguist: Jack Ryan's fluency in Russian comes in very handy after he and the Dallas crew get on the Red October.
- Cut Himself Shaving: An inconvenient political officer "slips on his tea."
- Death by Adaptation: Borodin is killed by the GRU mole.
- Department of Redundancy Department: When the Dallas first picks up Red October, Jonesy reports "I think we've got a boomer coming out of the barn. Could be a missile boat out of Polijarny." A "boomer" is a designation for a missile boat, and "barn" was the US Navy's nickname for Polijarny. It's possible that he was explaining for the benefit of the newbie he was training. Alternately the audio on the second sentence sounds slightly different, so it may have been added later for the audience's benefit.
- Description Cut: Ramius mentions to Borodin that he hopes it is not a "buckaroo" that will be sent to meet them — and we immediately cut to Ryan in the plane, bouncing about uncomfortably in the turbulence.
- Eureka Moment: When Ryan figures out the last part of Ramius' plan.How do you make a crew want to get off a nuclear subma...
- Everybody Smokes: Most of the Russian crew are shown smoking aboard the sub, especially Engineer Melekhin, who has a cigarette in his mouth whenever he's not in the engineering sections.
- In an effort to break the ice, Ryan, who had just quit smoking in the book, mimes borrowing a cigarette from him. After he takes a few puffs, Melekin says (in Russian) it looks like [Ryan's] "turning green."
- Everyone Knows Morse: Mancuso sends Morse messages to Ramius (watching by periscope) with a light blinker, asking for an active sonar ping to signal Ramius' agreement. It's at least discussed, as Mancuso says, "My Morse is so rusty, I could be sending him dimensions on Playmate of the Month."
- Evil Is Not Well-Lit: The Soviet subs have a lot more shadows and subdued lighting than the Dallas. Once Ramius completes his defection the radiation warning lights in the October's command centre are left on, resulting in it being considerably brighter.
- Evil Virtues: The Cook is not only willing to sacrifice himself to prevent the missile sub from falling into enemy hands, but is resourceful enough to come very close to destroying the submarine with all of the conspirators aboard.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Tyler and Ryan's conversation takes on dimensions of this once they realize that the Red October is a stealth submarine.Tyler: We messed around with this [Caterpillar Drive engines] a few years ago. Couldn't get it to work. (beat) They really built this? This isn't a mockup?
Ryan: She put to sea this morning.
Tyler: When I was little, I helped my daddy build a bomb shelter in our basement because some fool parked a dozen warheads ninety miles off the coast of Florida. This thing could park a couple hundred warheads off Washington or New York and nobody would know anything about it until it was all over.
- Expospeak Gag: Teaching Beaumont to use the sonar, Seaman Jones describes the contact he's found as a "biologic":Beaumont: A what?
Jones: A whale, Seaman Beaumont, a whale. A marine mammal that knows a heck of a lot more about sonar than you do.
Davenport: They're banging away with their active sonar but they're not stopping to listen.Ryan: What do you mean?Davenport: Well, they're travelling at about 30 knots. At that speed, they could run over my daughter's stereo system and not hear it.
- The Captain of the Enterprise, Charlie Davenport, gets one when he explains to Ryan how the Soviet fleet is using their sonar wrongly.
- Forever War:
- Sean Connery makes a speech to the sailors reminding them that their grandfathers had been going on patrol against the Americans just like them.
- Later in his cabin, he gives Borodin his true thoughts, describing this as a war "with no monuments, no victories, only casualties."
- Foreshadowing: When Captain Mancuso is preparing to destroy the Red October (while Ryan pleads his case that Ramius intends to defect) he remarks "I want full safeties, I don't want this fish coming back on us." Later the Russian sub pursuing Red October is destroyed by its own torpedo.
- Genre Savvy: Ryan is this when it comes to military operations, due to his being a graduate of the US Naval Academy. When the helicopter pilot says they can't wait any longer because of low fuel, Ryan knows that all military aircraft have an emergency fuel reserve and tells the pilot to use it if he wants to avoid a war. Truth in Television, but the pilot saying he can only enter it during time of war is not technically true. It's left up to the pilot's discretion if he or she thinks they need to use the emergency fuel reserve.
- Go Look at the Distraction: Dr. Petrov is the only Red October officer not part of Ramius' defection plan. So, during dinner in the officers' mess, Borodin orders him to compile his radiation tests so that they can privately discuss their plan.
- Hand Signals: Chief Engineer Melekhin whistles and uses a hand-across-the-throat sign to tell his subordinate to shut down the caterpillar.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: While a few of the officers are bothered by Ramius killing Putin, they are, with one exception, shocked out of their minds when he reveals that he sent a letter to Admiral Padorin telling him of their plans to defect.
- Heroic Sacrifice:
- Borodin takes a bullet from the saboteur. The saboteur himself, for that matter.
- The crew of the Red October that had abandoned ship end up believing Ramius and the officers did a collective one since they were fooled into thinking that they got them off so they could scuttle the sub rather than have it captured.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Tupolev, thanks to a Misguided Missile. It was his own torpedo, cunningly baited to head right back towards him. Thanks to him ordering the safeties disabled to prevent Ramius from ramming another one before it can arm, it instantly detonates.
- Hyper Awareness: Seaman Jones, justified in that veteran sonar operators in Real Life really are that good, to the point of identifying individual ships by the sound of their engines.
- If I Wanted You Dead...: Subverted — after the Red October narrowly evades a real torpedo launched from a Soviet anti-submarine patrol plane, one of the crew asks "Why's our own navy shooting at us?" and is told by the first officer "If they were really shooting at us, we'd be dead."
- I Know You Know I Know: During the final discussion between the National Security Adviser and the Soviet Ambassador, it's pretty apparent that both of them know exactly what transpired, and dance around the issue accordingly.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Ryan objects to being placed at a control station for the Red October, as he's not who he's dressed to look like.Ramius: Ryan, sit here.
Ryan: I'm not a naval officer, I'm with the CIA!
Ryan: I'm not an agent, I just write books for the CIA!
- Insistent Terminology: Seaman Jones doesn't care that COB is about to tell an embarrassing sea story to the new sonar operator that he's training, so long as he gets it right. He was listening to Paganininote , NOT Pavarottinote .
- I Was Never Here: Admiral Greer, who deliberately detonated the American torpedo targeting the Red October.Now understand, Commander: That torpedo did not self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull. And I... (shows his ID) was never here.
- Just Plane Wrong/Stock Footage Failure: During the Coming In Hot scene mentioned above, the footage of the "F-14 Tomcat" crashing on landing is actually of an F9F Panther, an aircraft that had been retired for almost 30 years at the time the film was set. The crash footage had also previously been used in a number of other films.
- Lampshade Hanging: Adding to the comedy value of Ramius' advice that Jack be careful about where he aims his handgun, after The Mole fires on Ryan, he mutters,Ryan: I have to be careful what I shoot at?! (the camera pans to show the ICBMs in their launch racks)
- Large Ham: Richard Jordan as the National Security Advisor. It is a very odd scene indeed where Joss Ackland (Soviet Ambassador) is the quiet, reserved one.
- Layman's Terms: Jones explains "biologics" are animals, in this case whales.
- Let Me Get This Straight:Mancuso: Have I got this straight, Jonesy? A forty million dollar computer tells you you're chasing an earthquake, but you don't believe it, and you come up with this on your own?
Jones: (beat) Yes, sir.
Mancuso: Including all the navigation math?
Jones: Sir, I-I've got all the—
Mancuso: Relax, Jonesy, you sold me.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: Ramius kills Putin and makes it look like he slipped on some tea.
- Married to the Job: Ramius regrets he figuratively widowed his wife the day he married her.
- Massive Multiplayer Scam: Ramius and the Americans pull a huge one to trick the Soviets.
- Meaningful Background Event: After the Soviet Bear bomber drops its torpedo,note the co-pilot looks towards the pilot with a horrified look on his face.
- The Medic: Doctor Petrov (Tim Curry!), naive but caring about his men, as well as a good officer who keeps order when the Red October is being evacuated.
- Membership Token: The Captain of the USS Enterprise takes a dislike to Jack Ryan disguising himself as a naval officer, until the carrier battlegroup's commanding admiral points out his Naval Academy graduate ring, going on to explain how Jack was in a helicopter crash while at the Academy, and had to finish his studies while in the hospital for his entire last year.
- Military Maverick: Ramius repeatedly demonstrates this, unnerving even his fellow officers with his highly unconventional tactics.
- Misguided Missile: Thanks to some clever maneuvering and disengaged torpedo safeties, and a bit of help from Dallas, the Red October manages to string around a pursuing torpedo so that it hits the very attack sub that fired it.
- Mr. Exposition: Jones while explaining all sorts of basics of sonar and sub tactics to Beaumont, some of which anyone on board a sub ought to already know.
- Nausea Dissonance: Ryan hates flying because of turbulence. When he's on a turbulent flight to the Enterprise, the navigator goes into excruciating detail about a really rough ride on his last mission, mentions he vomited, and then offers him a bit of the candy bar he's been munching on.
- The Navigator: Kamarov, who guides Red October through Red Route One.
- Nerves of Steel: Marko Ramius quizzes Ryan about Ryan's books while a torpedo is homing in on their sub.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Nobody on the Red October knows that the Konavalov has caught up to them until a torpedo misses them. If that torpedo had hit, Ramius' defection would've come to an explosive end.
- Non-Action Guy: Downplayed. Jack Ryan is a CIA Analyst, an office mouse type who hates flying, takes poorly to being shot at, and spends much of the movie out of his depth as he hitches rides on various warships and submarines. As it is eventually revealed, he is also a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and commissioned in the Marine Corps before being medically discharged due to his injuries in a helicopter crash, as Admiral Painter says, "He did his fourth year from the hospital."
- Non-Lethal Warfare: The setting. But in this specific point it is dangerously close to turning lethal.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Most of the actors playing the Russian characters, but especially Sean Connery. Presumably given the translation convention, the accents represent Russian regional accents instead, and suddenly giving them accents when they Switch to English would have been jarring.
- Not Now, Kiddo:
- Admiral Painter does this to Ryan, though it's justified. At the moment Ryan comes to him, they're trying to recover a damaged fighter.
- Captain Mancuso also does this to Ryan when preparing to attack the Red October. Ryan manages to make himself heard enough to sell his theory that Ramius is trying to defect, though he comes dangerously close to You Have to Believe Me.
- A Nuclear Error: In order to heighten tensions and give a deadline for the affair, the movie never explains what the book did about the range of SS-N-20s or Soviet safeguards against rogue launch.
- Obscured Special Effects: The underwater shots of the subs never take place in shallow or well-lit water so the CGI could be masked.
- Of Course I Smoke: Jack Ryan makes a point about how he doesn't smoke, repeatedly turning down cigarettes. However, after arriving aboard the Red October, he makes a wordless gesture requesting a cigarette from one of the Russian officers. Ryan's coughing amuses the Russians, and helps to ease the tension between both sides.Melekhin: [in Russian, a few moments after Ryan lights up] He's turning green!
- Oh, Crap!:
- Subverted. Tupolev's second officer, when he finds out that their torpedo is now going to hit them instead,doesn't freak out, but simply points out to his captain how much of an arse he had been."You arrogant ass! You've killed us!"
- Played straight when the Red October is overflown by "a low altitude multi-engine turboprop." When it launches a torpedo, the officers know that they were overflown by a Soviet Tupolev Tu-142 and not an American Lockheed P-3 Orion.
- Ryan's expression when he finds out that Red October was spotted by a satellite leaving the Polijarny Inlet, two days after he found out of its existence.
- During the "torpedo chase through the canyon" sequence, Kamarov has an unspoken one when he fumbles his marker as he's marking them moving off the plotted course through the canyon and counting the seconds past their regular point of turning.
- Subverted. Tupolev's second officer, when he finds out that their torpedo is now going to hit them instead,doesn't freak out, but simply points out to his captain how much of an arse he had been.
- Old Master: Captain Ramius's nickname? The "Vilnius Schoolmaster." He trained many of the Soviet navy's sub skippers, including Tupolev.
- Ominous Latin Chanting: Or, in the case of "Hymn to Red October", the movie's theme song, Ominous Russian Chanting.note
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Gates McFadden, from her short scene as Caroline Ryan, as starts with a British accent before going to an American accent.
- Opening Scroll: Contains a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- Politicians Kiss Babies: NSA adviser Jeffrey Pelt tells Jack Ryan "I'm a politician, which means that I'm a cheat and a liar. And if I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops.".
- Poor Communication Kills: In-Universe; when the Soviet Ambassador tells Pelt that Ramias intends to start WWIII, Pelt naturally asks why the hell he didn't say this earlier. The ambassador replies, "My job is sometimes hampered by the fact that Moscow does not choose to tell me everything!"
- Precision F-Strike: From the scene briefing the President's National Security Advisor:
- Punch Clock Villain: Putin. "I am only doing my job, it is my responsibility!"
- Red Alert: Combined with Repeat to Confirm:Ramius: Battle stations.
Borodin: Battle stations!
Slavin: Battle stations!
Red Shirt: Battle stations!
- Refuge in Audacity: When Tupolev fires torpedoes at the Red October, Ramius orders the crew to make the submarine close with the torpedoes at full speed. He correctly deduces that by getting close to the torpedoes shortly after they've fired, he can catch them while their safeties are still on and ram them with minimal damage. All the while calmly asking Ryan what kind of books he writes.
- Reporting Names: For simplicity, the Soviet subs are only referred to by their NATO designations, even though the Alfa-class was known as the Lira-class in Russian.
- Retirony: "I would have liked to have seen Montana."
- Rousing Speech: At the start of the mission, Captain Ramius delivers one so magnificent that it prompts the sailors to chant the national anthem. It's rife with Badass Boast, talking about how they'd slip in past the SOSUS sonar network, listen to commercial radio broadcasts from New York City, and conduct missile drills off the American coast before sailing on to Cuba.
- Rule of Symbolism: The first word when Russians start speaking English is "Armageddon" (which is the same in both languages), hinting at the reason Ramius did what he did.
- Rule of Three: Ryan and smoking. He is offered a cigarette by Painter on the Enterprise when as he is briefed and declines it. He then is offered one by the Chief of the Boat aboard the Dallas, he declines that one as well, insisting he doesn't smoke. After boarding the Red October he asks Melekhin for one, then obviously has trouble with it.
- Melekhin: [in Russian] "He's turning green..."
- Running Gag:
- Whenever Jack is doing something unpleasant or dangerous;Ryan: Jack, next time you get a bright idea, write a goddamn memo!
- Various people asking Jack when the last time he slept was.
- Whenever Jack is doing something unpleasant or dangerous;
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of Ramius' motivations for defecting.
- Self-Disposing Villain: Tupolev is killed by having his attack turned on him.
- Silent Running Mode: Submarines are of course designed to do this from the very start.
Jones: Conn, sonar! Crazy Ivan!
- Red October is a particular example in that its caterpillar drive makes it unusually quiet even for submarines.
- The Dallas is forced to go silent at one point while trailing Red October.
Mancuso: All stop, quick quiet.
- Sleazy Politician: A National Security adviser hangs a Self-Deprecation lampshade after a staff meeting.Jeffrey Pelt: Listen, I'm a politician, which means I'm a cheat and a liar, and when I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops. But it also means that I keep my options open.
- Smug Snake: Capt. Tupolev.
- Spared by the Adaptation:
- Lt. Kamarov takes the bullet from The Mole in the novel and is killed, but survives in the film.
- The eardrums of Red October's sonar officer (in the book, he doesn't remove his headset in time during one of the torpedo explosions and winds up temporarily deafened.)
- Super Prototype: Red October is a significantly modified variant of the very real Typhoon/Акула class of ballistic missile submarine. Longer and wider than the standard type, Red October carries six additional ballistic missiles and, most significantly, the "caterpillar drive", which is a revolutionary silent propulsion system (magneto-hydrodynamic in the movie, ducted pump-jet in the novel).
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Invoked in the Opening Scroll, which bothers to remind you that this movie is totally fictitious. Honest. It actually is completely accurate but...
- Tension-Cutting Laughter: When Ryan, Captain Mancuso and Seaman Jones arrive aboard the eponymous sub, there is dead silence as the Americans and Russians stare at one another. But when Ryan wordlessly requests a cigarette from one of the Russian officers, he coughs while smoking (earlier, he'd explain that he doesn't smoke, repeatedly turning down cigarettes), which amuses the Russians and soon eases the tensions between both sides.
- Thinking Out Loud: Ryan scolds himself twice for going on this mission instead of just writing a goddamn memo.
- Translation Convention:
- The first part of the film is entirely in Russian, until the Political Officer reads from The Bible's "Book of Revelation". Mid-read, the camera zooms in on his mouth, where he begins speaking English, then pulls back again. The language switch is done on "Armageddon", a word pronounced the same way in both Russian and English.
- Once the Americans meet them, they switch back to subtitled Russian, as only Ryan can understand it and Ramius speaks English.Ramius: (in Russian) You speak Russian.Jack: (in Russian) A little. It is wise to study the ways of ones adversary. Don't you think?Ramius: (in English) It is.
- Understatement: "Most things in here don't react too well to bullets." Even more amusing when you hear it in Sean Connery's voish, and then Alec Baldwin's imitation.Ryan: "Mosht things in here don't react well to bulletsh." Yeah, like me ... I don't react well to bullets.
- Victorious Chorus: The main theme, the "Hymn to Red October".
- War Is Hell: Ramius, speaking about the Cold War:Ramius: I miss the peace of fishing like when I was a boy. Forty years I've been at sea. A war at sea. A war with no battles, no monuments... only casualties. I widowed her the day I married her. My wife died while I was at sea, you know.
- The Watson: Seaman Beaumont is basically only there so that Jonesy can tell the audience what's going on.
- We Used to Be Friends: Tupolev and his old teacher, Ramius. Subverted, in that Tupolev believes they were friends and holds Ramius in high regard, while Ramius appears somewhat disdainful of Tupolev.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Twice, in the same scene:
Kamarov: In the name of God, why?
- The assassination of The Political Officer. When the rest of the command crew bring this up to Ramius over dinner, Borodin defends Ramius's action, saying "Did you think he would just go away and sulk while we carried out our plans?" Only one of them objects on the basis of murder being wrong; the rest are worried the crew will find out and mutiny.
- When Ramius reveals he told Russian fleet command that they're defecting. Even Borodin, who respects Ramius greatly and waits until the others leave to voice his own objection, is shocked.
Ramius: When he reached the new world, Cortez burned his ships. As a result, his men were well motivated.
Kamarov: You have signed our death warrants.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The DSRV Mystic, Mancuso tells its operator to "Get the hell out of here", and we never see or hear from it again.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Jack Ryan broke his back in a helicopter crash when he was a Marine, and spent over a year in the hospital recovering from his injuries. He is shown early in the movie being entirely unable to sleep on airplanes (before the helo crash is brought up in the film). Later, he has to ride in the back of a small airplane getting bounced around in order to get to the Enterprise. And then, he has to ride in a helicopter in order to link up with the Dallas. Even once he's on board the sub, he seems to find its initial dive disquieting. However, by the end of the film, due to fatigue and being forced to confront this fear so many times the final scene shows him sleeping peacefully in broad daylight on his plane journey home.
- Worthy Opponent: Capt. Tupolev; also the Russian mole aboard the Red October.
- You Have 48 Hours: Pelt gives Ryan three days to prove that Ramius is defecting.
- You Have to Believe Me: Subverted—Jones knows how crazy his theory about the disappearing Russian sub probably sounds, but Mancuso believes him straight away.
- Zipping Up the Bodybag: Early in the film, we see Political Officer Putin being zipped up as Captain Ramius expresses his regret over the unfortunate death from slipping on some spilled tea.
- Crazy Ivan!