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Film / Hunter Killer

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Hunter Killer is an American action-adventure film that was released October 2018. Directed by Donovan Marsh and written by Arne Schmidt with Jamie Moss, it is an adaptation of the 2012 novel Firing Point, which was authored by Don Keith and George Wallace. The cast includes Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Common, Linda Cardellini, Toby Stephens, Michael Nyqvist in one of his final roles, Caroline Goodall, and Mikhail Gorevoy. It was released in the United States on October 26, 2018 by Summit Entertainment. It is dedicated to Mikael Nyqvist, who died in June 2017 in his native Stockholm, Sweden.

In terms of story-line, the film features cat-and-mouse games involving American and Russian submarines that culminate in the U.S. military discovering a coup against the civilian Russian leadership. Orchestrated by the treacherous Minister of Defense and his cronies, the rapidly unfolding events threaten to start World War III. The crew of a U.S. hunter killer must work with a special group of Navy SEALs to save the day, working deep in Russian territory to prevent catastrophe.

This film provides examples of:

  • A-Team Firing:
    • Trained soldiers both regular and elite spend over 30 seconds firing at eachother sometimes with only one or two hits. Sometimes the other side is entirely berefit of cover and they STILL don't get hits.
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • Both the Russian soldiers and the SF team wear body armor. None of it helps. In fact, one of the special forces soldiers are hit in the back, right in where his plate would be.
  • Badass in Distress:
    • Russian submarine captain Andropov is trapped aboard his sub when a saboteur blows a hole in it from the inside. After being saved by DSRV Mystic, then brought aboard USS Arkansas, he helps the latter get past Polyarny's anti-sub defenses.
    • Russian president Zakarin is a non-combat example, spending most of the film locked up in Polyarny, then using his position as president of the Russian government to undo Durov's villainy after being freed.
  • Big Bad: Defense Minister Dmitri Durov (played by Mikhail Gorevoy, who was actually born in Moscow).
  • Big Damn Heroes: Martinelli has his moment when he saves the surviving members of his team (which included Russian president Zakarin at the time) by laying down accurate and deadly sniper fire on their pursuers.
  • Big Good:
  • Butt-Monkey: Absolutely nothing goes right for Martinelli during the first half of the movie. He (barely) fails a training exercise, almost doesn't stick his landing and almost kills himself and he's the only one to get shot when the Russians try to scout their position. His luck ironically turns around once he gets left behind and takes on the role of Friendly Sniper.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship: Glass' relationship with his XO grow increasingly strained due to his unconventional command style, to the point that the XO comes close to mutinying. But when a particularly daring stratagem of Glass' turns out successful, the XO proves himself a Graceful Loser and throws his full support behind his captain.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Glass is introduced hunting deer with a modern recurve bow, and abstaining from taking the shot when he notices his prey having young with them. While certainly Truth in Television, bow hunting is still a rather unusual sight in movies, so it serves well to portray Glass as a man of unconventional choices and tactics who does all he can to avoid harming innocents.
  • Evil Chancellor: The usurping Durov's role.
  • Fatal Family Photo: inverted. Martinelli, who shows his wife/girlfriend's photo, is among the two survivors out of the SEAL team.
  • A Father to His Men:
    • Glass is one to his crew, as he does his utmost in usual circumstances to minimize any risks to his own men. That he almost had a mutiny on his hands when he makes high risk demands on his crew is a testament to just how grave the situation has become.
    • Sergei Andropov is regarded as one by his men as well. And it extends beyond his own present crew, as many in the Russian navy once served under him and regard him as a Living Legend. That provides a crucial turn when some of his former crew members turn on Sutrev at the last minute.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Glass and Andropov don't exactly get off on the right foot, but their shared ordeal leads to them developing a deep mutual respect for each other, and they seem to part as friends once the crisis is resolved.
  • Friendly Sniper: Martinelli, the SEAL team sniper.
  • Friend or Foe?: Invoked. After Big Bad Durov inadvertently commits treason, Russian destroyer Yevchenko promptly launches a pair of cruise missiles at him.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • While they were never antagonists to begin with, Russian president Zakarin and captain Andropov quickly become two of USS Arkansas's most powerful allies once they step aboard, despite the fact that Big Bad Durov and his supporters are also Russian.
    • After being chased by them for most of the finale, Andropov contacts Russian destroyer Yevchenko and tells it to stand down, banking on the fact that her crew was primarily composed of sailors he trained personally, meaning that his relationship with them was the same that Glass has with Arkansas' crew. When Yevchenko's current captain, Sutrev, orders the crew to launch a missile at USS Arkansas after she surfaces, its crew does nothing. And while president Zakarin declaring that attacking Arkansas would be considered treason gets Sutrev to stand down, he doesn't join his crew until Big Bad Durov defies Zakarin's declaration by launching a pack of missiles at Arkansas.
  • Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: A major draw of the film. Unfortunately the actual action scenes are few and far between. Most of the effort are spent on not getting hit.
  • Ironic Name: Captain Joe Glass (played by Gerard Butler) of the USS Arkansas has to be a brittle figure who cracks easily, right? Actually, he's an intelligent, principled leader who remains calm under extreme pressure. In boxing terms, he's got the total opposite of a 'glass jaw'.
  • Loophole Abuse: One of the major conflicts in the final confrontation is that if USS Arkansas tries to attack anyone while in Polyarny's territory, her actions could start World War III. After Russian president Zakarin, who is currently aboard Arkansas, declares that attacking her would count as treason, Durov launching a battery of SAMs at her allows Yevchenko to do what Arkansas couldn't...
  • Macross Missile Massacre: Durov launches a barrage of several anti-ship missiles at the Arkansas while it's surfaced, but those missiles are intercepted by the CIWS of Russian destroyer Yevchenko. Yevchenko then launches a couple of cruise missiles at Polyarny's command center, destroying it, killing Durov, and ensuring that any of his surviving supporters couldn't retaliate.
  • Made of Iron: Soldier after soldier gets shown as being tough, understandably enough, but Beaman stands out for his body and will of steel.
    • Oleg (Zakarin's bodyguard) is far tougher than Beaman. He takes a gut shot pretty much in stride, doesn't drown or freeze to death when thrown into a Siberian port basin, climbs a sheer wall with his barely patched-up gunshot wound, participates in a major firefight with his assailants, and survives several more bullet wounds before finally going down in a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Make the Bear Angry Again: The direct outcome of the central villain's plan means triggering a new world war that he expects to win. He aims to trick regular soldiers and other Russians, the pawns in his scheme, into thinking that they simply act to defend their homeland.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: The Navy SEALs are certainly badass, but they can't hold a candle to Oleg, Zakarin's faithful bodyguard. When one of the SEALs gets shot in the leg, he's forced to stay behind. Oleg gets shot in the gut and just keeps on trucking, showing up the Americans at every moment they share a scene.
  • New Meat: Of course, the fact that they are Navy SEALs puts this in perspective, as by almost every metric Martinelli is still The Ace, but his lack of experience in comparison to the rest of the team is noted and shown several times.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The U.S. President bears a strong resemblance to Hillary Clinton, who run for that office in 2008 and 2016 but did not succeed.
  • No Name Given: The U.S. President is simply called by her title.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Despite being wounded himself, Lieutenant Beaman refuses to escape in the rescue sub and abandon Martinelli to Durov's men. He goes back alone and saves Martinelli right before he's going to be executed.
  • Point Defenseless: Submarines are completely helpless against anything but torpedoes, especially while surfaced. It makes the Arkansas a sitting duck when Durov launches a barrage of anti-ship missiles at the sub. Fortunately for the Arkansas, Russian destroyer Yevchenko packs multiple very powerful CIWS turrets, and had just been given a reason to use them.
  • Prevent the War: This could basically be called Prevent The War: The Movie.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Neither the civilian leadership of Russia nor the U.S. want a war. On the American side, official after official acts cool under pressure and tries to think out all of their options. Captain Joe Glass is a great example. Interestingly, CJCS Donnegan (Gary Oldman's character) is an exception, but coming across as a hothead makes sense given the circumstances.
  • Renegade Russian: The villains aren't just acting outside of the Kremlin's authority (as in many ''James Bond'' movies). The bad guys actively murder and hold hostage the civilian leadership and their people.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Hall, the SEAL who gets the least characterization, is the first to go.
  • Sea Mine: The Arkansas had to navigate an area filled with these things.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: When Arkansas is given clearance to fire upon the Anti-ship missile battery it doesn't... which is what convinces Russian Yevchenko to act in their stead.
  • Shoot the Bullet: Done by Yevchenko to protect the Arkansas.
  • Silent Running Mode: When USS Arkansas is traveling through Polyarny's underwater defense grid, Andropov silently signals for quiet, at which point captain Glass states "Set condition; 'Ultra-quiet'" over the sub's intercom, silencing everything save a rattling bolt in the torpedo room, which is swiftly dealt with by the crew.
  • Taking You with Me: Zakarin's bodyguard Oleg pulls a Heroic Sacrifice to buy the Navy SEALs time to get his boss to safety. When he's finally overwhelmed by Russian special forces, he lures them close before detonating two hand grenades while Flipping the Bird to his treacherous former comrades.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Sergei Andropov, the captain of the Russian sub that was sunk in the Action Prologue, is none too happy about being rescued by Americans instead of his own people. He likes it even less when Glass asks for his help in sneaking the Arkansas into a heavily guarded Russian naval base, but the circumstances force the two captains to work together to prevent World War III.
  • Tempting Fate: A rather odd example in that the party being threatened is also the one that metes out the punishment. After Zakarin gets Russian destroyer Yevchenko to stand down by stating that attacking USS Arkansas would be considered treason, her captain tells Big Bad Durov that he won't fire. In response, Durov sic's a battery of KH-35 mobile SAM launchers on the sub, seemingly oblivious to Zakarin's warning. After intercepting the missiles with its CIWS, Yevchenko makes good on said warning by firing a pair of cruise missiles at Polyarny's command center, taking out Durov in the process.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: A major point in the plot is Glass' attempt to avoid any unnecessary combat actions against the Russians, knowing full well that the vast majority are normal people just following orders from a treacherous minister. It becomes especially poignant once Russian captain Andropov comes aboard the Arkansas, as he trained most of the opposing sailors personally and knows many of them by name.
  • World War III: This is what multiple characters work to prevent. Durov, in contrast, appears almost suicidal in his overconfidence that Russia would win a military conflict with the U.S. (and, presumably, that he would emerge as a hero).
  • Working-Class Hero: In a sense. Glass is noted as an unusual submarine captain because he never graduated from a naval academy, having worked his way up from the lowest ranks instead. He makes sure to point out to his new crew during his Rousing Speech that he's one of them.