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."
The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 military thriller film adapting the Tom Clancy novel of the same name from the Jack Ryan series, directed by John McTiernan. It stars Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin. It is the first film in the original Jack Ryan film trilogy (the second of which is 1992's Patriot Games, and the third is 1994's Clear and Present Danger). Basil Poledouris composed the soundtrack.
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 (passive) SONAR detection. On its first deployment, its Lithuanian commander, Captain Marko Ramius, murders his political officer, taking his set of keys for the Red 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...
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's time to trope The Hunt for Red October, Tovarishch Kapitan:
- 0% Approval Rating: The Political Officer Putin is loathed by everyone. "The man was a pig," quoth Victor Slavin, who has no objections to his murder except for Ramius's unilateral decision to commit it.
- Abandon Ship: Because of the fake reactor malfunction, the crew is evacuated into life rafts...and then an American frigate shows up.Borodin: [looking at the frigate through his binoculars as it signals them] "Red October...Red October...halt and stay where you are. Do not attempt to submerge or you will be fired upon." Captain, I think he means to board us!
Ramius: [to Dr. Petrov] You will go with the crew. The officers and I will submerge beneath you...and scuttle the ship.note
Petrov: [with awe in his voice] You'll receive the Order of Lenin for this, Captain.
- 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. They also talk about traveling from state-to-state within the US, with Ramius explaining that "papers" (i.e identification and authorization to travel) are neither required by or even asked for by officials. Ramias also muses about his fear over the nature of the cold war with a nuclear Sword of Damocles hanging over the world: "a war with no battles, no heroes, only casualties".
- 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, apart from Ryan’s acknowledgement that the photos and scant information they have on Red October were obtained by MI-6, 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".
- Adapted Out:
- The U.S. President doesn't appear at all, with his interactions with Ryan and the Soviet Ambassador in the book given to the film's version of National Security Advisor Jeffrey Pelt. The sideplot with the Lira-class submarine E.S. Politovskiy suffering a fatal reactor accident is removed entirely, while the US Navy scuttling the USS Ethan Allen to cover up their acquisition of the Red October is replaced with the Konovalov being blown up by its own torpedo in the corresponding scene, rather than Ramius ramming her with the Red October in a later altercation.
- In the novel the Royal Navy had HMS Invincible's battle group involved in the operations to counter the Russians, and Invincible was the ship that sent the Morse signals to the Red October. The Brits are left out of the film entirely: Captain Mancuso's line about his Morse being rusty described the British signals officer in the book.
- In the novel, Red October is escorted to safety by two American submarines, USS Dallas and USS Pogy. Pogy isn't included in the film.
- 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. Ramius says he's been at sea for "40 years," so his character is probably closer to 60 as well.
- Almighty Janitor:
- US Sonarman Jones. He managed to not only identify Red October and its silent 'Caterpillar Drive', but he figured out a way to track it simply by listening to it long enough, doing what the rest of the US Navy hadn't been able to do up to that point, on top of neutralizing its trump card and rendering all the Soviets' efforts and investment to create the Red October ultimately All for Nothing.
- The cook on the Red October is a skilled spy and loyalist to the USSR.
- All for Nothing: From the film, it was made very clear Red October and its revolutionary 'Catepillar Drive' was the culmination of considerable Soviet investment and innovation with the intent of creating a nuclear submarine which could bypass NATO's naval detection and defenses, making it the ultimate war-winning weapon in a global conflict with the West through its ability to sail right up the East Coast of the USA and launch a nuclear first strike before the Americans can even respond. Then Captain Ramius stole the boat on its maiden voyage, and halfway through the film a naval serviceman, sonarman Ronald Jones, managed to identify the Red October as well as its silent drive and figured out a way to track it after listening to it long enough, all of which rendered all of the Soviets' efforts moot.
- 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]
Mancuso: What's so funny?
Ryan: Ah, the Captain seems to think you're some kind of...cowboy.
- 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.
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba:Sonarman 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.
- Armchair Military: Ryan. While he does have military training, he doesn't have any field experience due to a career-ending injury he sustained in his third year at the US Naval Academy, and even if he hadn't been injured, he was in the Marines and not the Navy. Ramius, an officer with years of experience, even tells him that he made the wrong conclusions about naval tactics in one of his books.
- Artistic License – Military: Admiral Painter tells Jack that they'll be in the CIC (combat information center). Aboard American carriers, this area is referred to as the CDC (combat direction center).
- Artistic License – Physics: The magnetohydrodynamic (using magnets to accelerate a fluid mass like a jet engine) drive described as the "Caterpillar drive" is actually a real-world concept with a few prototypes tested, but runs into multiple issues in how the Red October uses it:
- Water (fresh or salt) has a weak magnetic dipole, and isn't easily influenced by magnets. To propel something the size of a Typhoon-class submarine up to nearly 30 knots speed, you'd probably need magnets powerful enough to make the sub implode. (Magnetic sensors used in sub detection would also have no problem picking it up)
- Real-world magnetohydrodynamic drives that were tested not only have an efficiency issue (see above), they generate highly turbulent (and subsequently noisy) exhaust flows as a result, which would make the Red October noisier than if it'd used their regular propellers.
- The magnets are cooled by a cryogenic plant as mentioned more than once in the film—this would also be another source of noise a sonar could readily pick up.
- Artistic License – Politics: Konstantin Chernenko is referred to at one point as "Premier Chernenko". The actual Premier of the Soviet Union at the time was Nikolai Tikhonov, with Chernenko's own position being General Secretary of the Communist Party.
- Artistic License – Ships:
- Despite being central to the plot of both the film and the book it was adapted from, 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.
- Lira-class Soviet attack submarines (better known by their NATO reporting name Alfa-class) weren't given individual names, just alphanumerical designations: K-64, K-123, etc. The film inherited this error from the book.
- The real USS Reuben James (FFG-47) plays itself during the climax of the film, but wasn't commissioned until two years after the film's stated date.
- 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 two years before she was even commissioned.
- External scenes featuring USS Enterprise also depict the actual Enterprise, identifiable by her unique island design.
- Asshole Victim: Political Officer Putin is cold-bloodedly murdered by Captain Ramius early on. Because his killer is a hero in the movie, the victim is shown to be very rude (entering another character's quarters without permission and speaking to him in an insulting way) to justify his killing. This is later Lampshaded by another character, 2nd. Lt. Victor Slavin:
- Slavin: So he was murdered. I have no problem with that. The man was a pig.
- As You Know: When Jack mentions "turbulences" during his second scene, a plane stewardes reacts with unlikely unfamiliarity upon hearing the term, prompting Jack to explain the concept in detail, showing him as analytic-minded to the audience.
- Audience Surrogate:
- Seaman Beaumont early on. Sonarman 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.
- …And then Ryan breaks the news that Ramius is trying to defect
- 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.
Yuri: 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--...?"
- Bavarian Fire Drill: CIA Deputy Director Admiral Greer has Jack Ryan dress in a US Navy Commander's uniform in order to board the USS Enterprise using the ruse of performing an inspection of the aircraft carrier and its operations. This proves useful later when Ryan boards a helicopter to fly to the USS Dallas to board her, and gives orders to the pilot to ignore peacetime rules and use the reserve fuel tank, when the submarine is late arriving on the ocean surface.
- Beneath Notice: Cook's assistant Loginov.
- 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 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 the .45 Mancuso had earlier insisted he bring, tracks down and corners the GRU mole on the Red October, just as the mole is about to rig one of the ICBMs 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.
- Bombers on the Screen: Boomers, rather. When aboard the Enterprise, Ryan gets an update about the Soviet Navy's movements with the help of an on-board computer system using then-current 80's vector graphics showing the position of the boat, the Soviet surface ships and planes coming from the east chasing her at a speed far too high for their sonar to be of any use, and the Soviet subs that had taken position just off of all of the US East Coast ports. Ryan figures out it's a "hounds to the hunters" strategy — drive Ramius with the chasing Soviet surface fleet into the sights of the waiting subs.Captain Davenport: Your Russian's going to make it to America, Mr. Ryan. He's going to die within sight of it.
- Book Ends:
- The film begins with Ramius on the observation deck of the Red October surveying a river as they head out and ends with Ramius and Ryan on the observation deck as they slip into a Maine inlet under the cover of night.
- An early scene with Ryan has him on a plane and a stewardess recommends he get some sleep, which he declines because he doesn't like turbulence. It's later explained he was injured in a helicopter crash, explaining his dislike of flying. After the second half of the movie forcing him to do some helicopter rides and submarine maneuvers, the last scene shows him sleeping on the plane ride home.
- Brick Joke:
- At the very end, Ryan finally falls asleep on a plane. With the bear he promised his daughter at the beginning.
- Ramius worried about dealing with an American "buckaroo". When dealing with Mancuso, Ramius refers to him as a "buckaroo" to his XO, causing Jack to chuckle, and tell Mancuso Ramius thinks he's some sort of cowboy.
- Brief Accent Imitation: Jack Ryan, first of Admiral Painter, then of Captain Ramius, courtesy of Alec Baldwin's talent for impressions.Ryan: (as Painter) The average Russkie, son, don't take a dump without a plan.
Ryan: (as Ramius) Ryan, shome thingsh in here don't react well to bulletsh. (as himself) Yeah, like me. I don't react well to bullets.
- 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.note Ramius: When he reached the New World, Cortez burned his ships. As a result, his men were well-motivated.
- The Cameo:
- Standup comedian Rick Ducommun plays Navigator C-2A, who jokes with an airsick Jack about puking.
- Gates McFadden plays Jack Ryan's wife Cathy.
- Captain Obvious: The Konavolov has a near-miss torpedo fly by the Red October, which everyone clearly heard, while the DSRV Mystic is still attached. Ramias wants "that thing off my boat" because things are about to get hectic. The DSRV operator thinks Mancuso needs to be informed when he urgently goes to close the entry hatch.Steiner: Hey, I think someone just shot a torpedo at us!
Mancuso: No shit, buckwheat! Get the hell out of here!
- Casual Danger Dialogue: 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.note
- Category Traitor: Implied with Captain Tupolev, who Putin mentions is descended from aristocracy. Tupolev is the loyal Soviet sub commander sent to chase down the defecting Ramius, son of a humble fisherman.
- 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 (designated the Mystic) is used to ferry Mancuso and his team from the Dallas to the Red October.
- 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.
- Captain Tupolev is mentioned early on, and seen a little later receiving orders to stop Ramius. He doesn't appear again until the climax when his boat (the Konavalov) attacks the Red October.
- 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. (Jonesy, of course, has already come to a similar conclusion that the "magma displacement" isn't actually a magma displacement, but a new kind of Russian sub.)
- Chromosome Casting: The only females in the entire cast are Sally Ryan, Cathy Ryan, the airline stewardess and a secretary in Padorin's office, all of whom are viewed only briefly and have less than half a dozen of lines, in total.
- Coming in Hot: With the aid of anachronistic Stock Footage and Eject... Eject... Eject... instruction heard from the LSO, an Enterprise air wing F-14 Tomcat is shown coming in damaged from a collision with a Soviet bomber that came too close to the carrier battle group.Captain Charlie Davenport: Bear Foxtrot got too close to the battle group. One of the F-14s tried to crowd him off-course and they bumped. Now he's got stabilator damage and he's leaking hydraulic fluid. We're not sure he can make it back to the ship. Water's too cold to eject.
- Commanding Coolness: As the Red October starts a high speed run through the underwater canyons, the rest of the officers start a mild panic at the thought of smashing into an underwater peak. What does Ramius do? Sit in his chair, fastens his seatbelt, and catches his cup of tea as it starts to slide off his tray. Borodin simply looks at him and smiles.
- 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."
- Danger Deadpan: During the finale, Jonesey, manning sonar aboard the Red October, reports the last torpedo launched by the Konavalov went active as soon as it left the tube and that it already has them acquired. Despite the fact he's talking about the imminent destruction of the ship he's on, his assessment is a very dispassionate "I think he's got us." As things get more hectic a few seconds later, though, he starts showing it in his voice.
- Death by Adaptation: Borodin is killed by the GRU mole during the climactic battle.
- 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.
- Didn't See That Coming:
- Ryan figures out that Ramius will get his crew off the Red October before he defects, but he doesn't guess that one loyalist will stay on board to screw things up.
- Apparently, nobody figured on the Konavalov catching up to Red October.
- And speaking of, Captain Tupolev probably knew Ramius' tactics (having been his student and all) but had no way of knowing about Mancuso or what he would do in a battle.
- Dive! Dive! Dive!: Inverted when the Dallas pulls an emergency blow to escape a torpedo.
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Cook's assistant Loginov is the GRU mole aboard Red October. He appears briefly in a single scene beforehand after Ramius murders Putin and claims his nuclear key, which he has both Dr. Petrov and Loginov witness.
- Dramatic Shattering: Admiral Padorin drops his tea glass when he reads Ramius's letter announcing his intention to defect.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: As the earliest Jack Ryan movie, it's unusual in that the story is evenly split between Captain Ramius and Jack Ryan, with a little more focus on Ramius (due to being Sean Connery). Later movies are not as involved with the "villain" or other significant characters.
- Either "World Domination", or Something About Bananas: While signaling the Red October, Captain Mancuso remarks that "My Morse is so rusty I'm probably sending him measurements of Playmate of the Month."
- Eject... Eject... Eject...: This instruction is given by the Landing Signals Officer to an F-14 pilot who is Coming in Hot with a crippled jet.Enterprise LSO: Pick up your left wing! You're drifting left! Power, power, wave off! Wave off! EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!
- Epic Launch Sequence: Of the Red October, complete with Ominous Russian Chanting.
- "Eureka!" Moment:
- When discussing intel that Ramius has gone silent and sent a letter to his superiors before heading out, the CIA meeting was fearing the worst that Ramius has gone rogue and intends to attack the US with their nuclear arsenal. Ryan, who knows most about Ramius personally, realized this was the anniversary of his wife's death. His surprised "Son of a bitch!" caused the meeting to go silent wondering what he was thinking and Ryan proposes a radical theory that Ramius intends to defect, using the Red October as the ultimate negotiating bribe.
- Two back-to-back when Ryan figures out crucial parts of Ramius' plan.Ryan: [imitating Admiral Painter] "The average Russkie, son, don't take a dump without a plan." [as himself] Wait a minute...we don't have to figure out how to get the crew off the sub. He's already done that. He would've had to. All we have to do is figure out what he's gonna do. So how's he gonna get the crew off the sub? They'd have to want to get off. 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...
(cut to CIC)
Ryan: I know how he's gonna get the crew off the sub, Admiral.
- 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, but claims not to smoke in the movie, mimes borrowing a cigarette from him.
- 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. Though justified, as all naval personnel are expected to be able to read and send at least basic signals, it gets 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 control room are left on, resulting in it being considerably brighter, while the soft white lights of Dallas switch to a harsher red when the American sub goes to battle stations.
- 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.
- Expert Consultant: Skip Tyler, a former submariner until he lost his leg to a drunk driver, now teaches at the naval academy and occasionally consults with the Navy on technical matters. Ryan comes to him for help figuring out what the mysterious doors in Red October's hull are.
- 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, Sonarman 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.
- The Captain of the Enterprise, Charlie Davenport, gets one when he explains to Ryan how the Soviet fleet is using their sonar incorrectly.Davenport: They're banging away with their active sonar but no one's listening.
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.
- Teaching Beaumont to use the sonar, Sonarman Jones describes the contact he's found as a "biologic":
- Eyedscreen: The opening scene introduces Ramius with a a close-up of him gazing into the horizon as the Red October sails out of Polyarny.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Zig-Zagged. Or rather 'Fake Ultimate Weapon'. For all the talk that is made of it, the Caterpillar drive isn't actually all that 'silent'. The Red October is initially able to the evade the Dallas, but they still track them down after a couple of days. It actually worked for quite some time, and exactly for the reasons the designers intended; automated sonar detection systems could pick up the sounds made by a Caterpillar, but couldn't tell it was a submarine("Doubt our sonar would even pick it up. If it did, it would sound like... whales humping or some kind of seismic anomaly. Anything but a submarine."). Even the Dallas's sonar analysis software initially thought the Red October was "magma displacement". It was only when a particularly skilled American sonar operator recorded the sound of the drive and played it back at 10x speed that he realized it was man-made. And even though Jonsey convinced Captain Mancuso of this, the captain still couldn't convince anyone higher of this and Enterprise Command thought he was chasing earthquakes.
- Fiery Cover Up: Ramius burns the orders retrieved from the safe so he can replace them with the forged orders he's brought along.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Captain Davenport, CO of the USS Enterprise, is initially somewhat hostile to Ryan, both for his idea of Ramius's possible defection and that Ryan is wearing the uniform of a Naval Officer (a Commander, one rank below him). After Admiral Painter lets him know that Ryan is an Academy graduate (a Marine) who had a training accident and did his fourth year while in the hospital, Davenport is much more cordial to him.
- 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 battles, no monuments, 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.
- In Ramius' conversation with Putin, the ship's political officer, he demands to know if there are any spies hidden aboard the vessel after he finds Putin going through his personal effects. Putin brushes him off and tells him that he sincerely doesn't know if the KGB or GRU have placed any agents onboard. Later, the caterpillar drive is sabotaged, allowing a Soviet torpedo bomber to zero in on Red October's position, confirming that Ramius' suspicions at the start were indeed correct.
- Genre Blindness: During one of their talks in the Captain's stateroom, Borodin makes plans to buy a pickup or RV and drive state-to-state, without having to show "papers," like he would have to do in the USSR. Guess what happens to him?
- Got Volunteered: Ryan ends up being forced into the role of liason for the plan to contact Ramius because everyone else doesn't believe Ramius intends to defect, and wouldn't stake their reputations on it even if they did. Ryan is, by comparison, an expendable nobody.
- Go-to-Sleep Ending: The film ends with Ryan asleep on a plane, having been unable to sleep on his flight earlier.
- Grand Theft Prototype: An unusual variation in that she's stolen by the guy who's supposed to be commanding her on a legitimate shakedown.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: Neither side is particularly villainous, the conflict is driven by disagreements rather than malice.
- Hand Signals: Chief Engineer Melekhin whistles and uses a Throat-Slitting Gesture to tell his subordinate to shut down the caterpillar.
- Hats Off to the Dead: Several of the sailors who evacuated Red October solemnly take off their hats when they see an underwater explosion (actually Tupolev's attack sub Konavalov) and assume that she was destroyed.
- Hero Antagonist: Arguably, Loginov, who, at worst, was doing his patriot duty. The book is much more clear on this point, with Ryan feeling guilt. In fact, none of the "villains" are guilty (on screen) of anything worse than extreme arrogance and poor judgment.
- Heroic BSoD: 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 to save Captain Ramius. The saboteur himself, for that matter, as he's doing his duty.
- 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.
- Hope Spot: After the Konavalov's first torpedo barrage fails, Red October appears to be in a perfect position to fire back. Then the GRU mole reveals himself, destroying the fire control console and killing Borodin.
- Hot Sub-on-Sub Action: Red October and Dallas vs Konavalov.
- How Did You Know? I Didn't: After Ryan correctly predicts that Ramius will pull a starboard Crazy Ivan.Mancuso: Just tell me one thing — how did you know he was gonna go to starboard?
Ryan: I didn't. I had a 50/50 chance and I needed a break. Sorry.
- Hunting the Rogue:, Captain Marko Ramius, commanding a new, ultra-quiet Soviet Navy ballistic missile submarine on her maiden voyage, sends a letter to the commander of the Navy announcing he and his officers plan to defect to the United States. This forces the entire Soviet Arctic fleet to pursue him, including many submariners Ramius himself trained, notably Captain Tupolev of the Alfa-class attack sub "V.K. Kanovalov".
- Hyper-Awareness: Sonarman 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.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Jones, the sonar technician for the USS Dallas, is introduced explaining some of the terminology and methodology to a trainee. The vessel ended up being the first to discover the Red October and be fooled by the silent caterpillar drive. He spent a couple hours analyzing all the data and sounds, eventually finding a specific frequency dismissed by the computers as background seismic activity but he believes is man-made. Captain Mancuso is skeptical but trusts him, while the higher ups they reported to ignored them "chasing earthquakes" until Ryan is able to put together they were tracking the Red October.
- If I Wanted You Dead...:
- 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."
- When confronted by the Dallas, Captain Ramius loads and floods his torpedo tubes, but doesn't open the doors. Mancuso, who does have his own torpedo doors open, explains to Ryan that Ramius is prepared to return fire if Mancuso tries to sink him, but "he's a very cool customer" and he's signaling that he won't fire first.
- 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!
- Informed Flaw: Downplayed. Slavin claims that Putin is a pig, but that doesn't really show on screen. He does rifle through Ramius' things without permission, but says that it's his job to do so, and he never does anything especially vile. That said, he is the representative of the Party on a boat of officers who hate the Party enough to defect. He’s also got comparable rank to the Captain without having climbed up like the rest of them. Even if he wasn’t personally that offensive, it’s reasonable they’d see him as a Hate Sink.
- Insistent Terminology: Seaman Jones doesn't care that COB is about to tell an embarrassing sea story about him to the new sonar operator that he's training, so long as he gets it right. He was listening to Paganininote , NOT Pavarottinote .
- It Only Works Once: With a torpedo bearing down on them, Ramius orders them to turn into the torpedo at full speed. This closed the gap to before the arming range of the torpedo, breaking it apart against the hull without exploding. Ramius knew the limitations of the torpedo, but also knew the captain of the other sub would remove the distance timers on a second shot to avoid that mistake—since Ramius himself trained the other captain.
- I Was Never Here: Admiral Greer, who deliberately detonated the American torpedo targeting the Red October.Greer: Now understand, Commander: That torpedo did not self-destruct. You heard it hit the hull. And I... (shows his ID) was never here.
- 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 spilled tea.
- Married to the Job: Ramius regrets he figuratively widowed his wife the day he married her by being absent at sea for long stretches.
- Meaningful Background Event: After the Soviet Bear bomber drops its torpedo,note the co-pilot glances 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 among the crew when the Red October is being abandoned.
- 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.
- The Men First: When Borodin suggests that they go to the much-closer Labrador coast in sixteen hours, Ramius tells him half the men would freeze or drown before rescue, and says they need to go to Maine or Massachusetts, which would take forty-eight hours. Later, as he is turning over the boat later to the U.S., he is concerned that his crew, who had been launched in emergency life-boats, were being rescued from the water.
- 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.
- Motive Misidentification: When US intelligence realizes that the Red October has vanished and a large portion of the Soviet fleet is looking for it, they conclude that Ramius has gone rogue and intends to launch a nuclear strike against the US; Ryan is the only one who disagrees, (correctly) believing that Ramius intends to defect. The Soviets know that Ramius plans to defect, but they tell the Americans that he has gone rogue so they will help destroy the Red October.
- 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.
- Mundane Luxury: One of the things that Borodin looks forward to in America is driving state-to-state without special permission or documentation.Borodin: Do they let you do that?
Ramius: Oh, yes.
Borodin: No papers?
Ramius: No papers. State-to-state.
- Nausea Dissonance: Ryan hates flying because of turbulence (or so he tells a stewardess; the more likely cause of his fear is his career-ending injury due to a bad helicopter crash). When he's on a turbulent flight to the Enterprise aboard a C-2 Greyhound, one of the flight crew goes into excruciating detail about a really rough ride on a previous mission in which they "Ran into a hailstorm over the Sea of Japan," mentions he and the pilots vomited excessively, and then offers him a bit of the candy bar he's been munching on.Flight crewman: The pilot shot his lunch on the windshield, and I barfed on the radio—knocked it out completely! And it wasn't the lightweight stuff either! It was that chunky, industrial-weight puke! Wanna bite?
- 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.
- Never Recycle Your Schemes: Acknowledged after Ramius' Refuge in Audacity moment where he saves the sub by moving it towards an incoming torpedo, exploiting a safety feature designed to keep it from exploding too close to the firing sub. He mirthlessly notes that he's not going be able to use that trick again.Jack: So, that's it?
Ramius: Not quite. Right now, Captain Tupolev is disabling the safety features on all of his weapons. He won't make the same mistake twice.
(shortly thereafter, Tupolev is yelling at his crew to do just that)
- 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 been fired with better aim and range, 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.NSA Jeffrey Pelt: Prudence demands that we deploy our forces as well! Have you considered that having your ships and our, your aircraft and ours, in such proximity is inherently dangerous? Wars have begun that way!
RADM Josh Painter: Someone screws up in a situation such as this, we're gonna find ourselves in the biggest naval battle since Jutland. Jesus!
RADM Josh Painter: This business will get out of control! It'll get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it!
- No OSHA Compliance: Averted at the submarine yard Ryan visits early in the film; he's tossed a hard hat immediately upon entering the work area.
- 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.
- 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.Tupolev's XO: 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.
- Ramius has one during the canyon run, when a loud clang shudders through the entire submarine.
- 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.
- The face of the watchstander on the Red October's bridge absolutely screams this when the radiation alarms go off.
- And of course, just about everybody at the meeting of the Joints Chiefs of Staff shits their pants when it becomes apparent that almost the entire Soviet navy has been launched to go after Red October, as they (correctly) realize the Russians are frantically trying to sink her and assume the worst. (They believe the implication is that Ramius has gone insane and is planning to fire his payload on the US, rather than the true reason, that he intends to defect.)
- Admiral Padorin has an unspoken one when he reads Ramius' letter, learning of his plan to defect.
- Ryan has one when he shows up at the White House to attend a situational briefing with Admiral Greer; when he's informed that he's giving the briefing, Ryan just about freezes in his tracks.
- 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' 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
- One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: Jones is a master of them:Jones: A whale, Beaumont, a whale.
Jones: Not if we stay in his baffles, Seaman Beaumont. Not if we stay in his baffles.
- The Only Believer: Doctor Petrov is the only officer under Ramius' command that doesn't believe the Soviet Union and Communism are a load of bull (well, other than The Political Officer, and Ramius kills him soon after sailing off). Understandably, one of the steps for the faked scuttling of the "Red October" is to get him off the ship.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Admiral Greer knows something big has to be up if it got Jack Ryan onto an overnight flight from London with no preamble. It's later revealed that Jack has a serious fear of flying due to nearly dying in a helicopter crash once.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Gates McFadden, in her short scene as Caroline Ryan, talks with a British accent when adressing the babysitter, before changing to an American accent, after a pause, when she appeals to to Jack, who is American, which makes sense as a deliberate, situational switch.
- Opening Scroll: Contains a Suspiciously Specific Denial.
- Politicians Kiss Babies: NSC Advisor 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 Ramius 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:
- Privacy by 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.
- Punch-Clock Villain: Putin. "I am only doing my job, it is my responsibility!"
- Race Against the Clock: Pelt gives Ryan three days to prove that Ramius is defecting.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- Ramius allows one of his officers to criticize him and accuse him of egotism in front of the others before calmly explaining that he has his reasons for doing what he did (writing a letter to Admiral Padorin admitting their plan to defect).
- Jeffrey Pelt is a man who keeps his "options open", and after Ryan's outburst at the briefing and disrespect towards a patronizing general he is still willing to listen to Ryan's opinion and he authorizes Ryan's mission to investigate the possibility that Ramius intends to defect. He is rewarded with a pricelessly patronizing moment with the Soviet ambassador at the end of the film, chastising him for "losing" another submarine.
- Admiral Painter also qualifies; while he's skeptical of Ryan's claim about Ramius, he asks reasonable questions (unlike Captain Davenport, who's outright dismissive) — one of which eventually leads to Ryan's "Eureka!" Moment — and he even gives Ryan a chance to rest up.
- Davenport, for that matter, becomes one once Painter tells him about Ryan's accident. Even if he doesn't exactly buy Ryan's theory, he at least softens up toward Ryan himself.
- Zigzagged with Mancuso. On the one hand, when Jonesy presents him with evidence about Red October and her stealth drive and how to track her, he willingly goes along with it; but when Ryan tries to prove to him Ramius is defecting, Mancuso is pretty dismissive, and even threatens to put Ryan on guard until the Crazy Ivan. The latter may be justified by the fact (a) Jonesy is a long-standing crew member whom he knows and trusts, while he's only just met Ryan, and (b) Mancuso had just received a message claiming Ramius intends to fire on the U.S., and protecting his country is more important to him than indulging Ryan's seemingly crazy idea.
- Recognizable by Sound: Jonesy can recognize a Typhoon-class submarine via sonar, and can tell by listening to a torpedo whether it's American or Russian. He can also tell that the "magma displacement" he's been hearing is not a magma displacement but a new Soviet propulsion system.
- Red Alert: Combined with Repeat to Confirm:Ramius: Battle stations.
Borodin: Battle stations!
Slavin: Battle stations!
Red Shirt: Battle stations!
- Red Oni, Blue Oni Out of the three sub commanders in the film, Ramius and Mancuso are Blue, being calculated and stoic officers to the point of making Casual Danger Dialogue while maneuvering to avoid incoming torpedoes, while Tupolev is Red, agitated and shouting orders to his men.
- 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."
- Rewatch Bonus: Cook's assistant Loginov's two (very brief) scenes before the climax get added meaning once the audience knows his secret. In particular, when Ramius announces his "orders" to the crew, the audience gets a brief moment of Loginov's reaction. On a first viewing, his expression seems about the same as the other sailors', but on the second watch, it's clear Loginov knows Ramius is lying and has gone rogue.
- 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...
- Torpedoes fired by the Konovalov in the final battle. The first misses the Red October entirely. Ramius has Ryan turn into the second one before it arms itself. The third goes around the battle zone for quite a while, narrowly missing the Dallas and the Red October before acting-captain Mancuso sends it into the Konovalov in a game of chicken.
- 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.
- Running Gag:
- Whenever Jack is doing something unpleasant or dangerous;Ryan: Jack, next time you get a bright idea, just put it in a memo!
Ryan: Next time, Jack, 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.
- Sealed Orders: For security, the Red October's mission orders are sealed and locked into a safe until after she leaves port. Once the submarine is underway, Ramius removes the orders and reads them — and then lies to the rest of the crew about what they say.
- Secret History: As the introduction makes clear, the American and Soviet governments deny that the events of the film ever happened.
- Self-Disposing Villain: Tupolev is killed by having his attack turned on him.
- Sexy Figure Gesture: A Soviet sailor on the mess deck makes the hourglass gesture when Captain Ramius describes Cuba as having warm "comradeship".
- Shouting Free-for-All: During the briefing, after it's revealed that the Soviet navy has sailed with orders to find Red October and sink her, the entire room erupts with discussions. Ryan listens at one end of the table, looking at the images of the sub's captain, Marco Ramius, until he has a realization that makes him pound the table with an exclamation of, "You son of a bitch!" The shouting immediately quiets.National Security Advisor Pelt: Do you have something to add to our "discussion", Dr. Ryan?
- Silent Running Mode: Submarines are of course designed to do this from the very start.
- 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.Jones: Conn, sonar! Crazy Ivan!
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.
- Soviet Superscience: The Americans researched the magneto-hydrodynamic stealth system some years prior to the events, but couldn't make it work. The Soviets succeeded.
- 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.)
- Speaking Up for Another: This exchange as regards Jack Ryan after he proposes his theory on Ramius's intention to defect.Admiral Josh Painter: You think he's crazy?Captain Davenport: Certifiable. And no matter what his credentials, I don't care for him wearing the uniform.Admiral Josh Painter: You see that ring on his finger? The Academy, Class of '72. A Marine.Captain Davenport: You're kidding! How did you...Admiral Josh Painter: Greer told me. Summer of his third year, he and his squad went down in a chopper accident in the Med. Bad - pilot, crew killed. That kid spent ten months in traction, another year learning to walk again. Did his fourth year from the hospital. Now it's up to you, Charlie, but you might consider cuttin' the kid a little slack.
- 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.
- 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...
- Take a Third Option: XO Thompson, left in command of the Dallas, is stuck between breaking rules of engagement and firing a torpedo at the Konovalov, or sitting by helplessly as the submarine battle between Red October and the Konavolov go on before them. He decides to interject in the safety-disabled torpedo fracas by interposing the Dallas over the Red October, giving the larger boat a momentary respite and doing an emergency surface to escape the torpedo's homing themselves.
- 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.
- Traitor Shot: Very downplayed: after Ramius has Loginov witness him taking Putin's missile key and walks away, the camera lingers a little too briefly on a character presented as just a bit part, hinting that he'll be important later.
- 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 one's 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'sh voish, and then Alec Baldwin's imitation.Ryan: "Ryan, shome thingsh 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".
- Visual Pun: The first VHS release of this film was, quite literally, red tape. As in a VHS cassette with a red shell.
- 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.
- Weapon Running Time: There're several scenes with torpedoes inexorably closing in on the sub. Usually includes the first officer stoically counting down the time to impact with his stopwatch.
- 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.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Twice, in the same scene:
- 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.Kamarov: In the name of God, why?
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 the Hell Is That Accent?:Ryan (sudden falsetto) : Has he made any Crazy Ivans?
- 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.
- Wronski Feint:
- Captain Ramius pulls this when a torpedo locks on to the sub while it is in its canyon run — he purposefully delays a turn by several seconds, then turns very hard (for a sub, anyway), causing the torpedo to impact into a canyon wall.
- Captain Mancuso repeats the feat later on when the Red October is being attacked by the Konavolov and has a torpedo locked on it from behind — Mancuso has the Red October head for the Konavolov then turn at the last moment so that the torpedo locks onto her instead.Mancuso: The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.
- You Are the Translated Foreign Word: Re Ramius.Ryan: The Russians call him "Vilnius nastavnik" — the Vilnius Schoolmaster.
- You Have to Believe Me!:
- Subverted relatively early in the story — Jones knows how crazy his theory about the disappearing Russian sub probably sounds, but Mancuso believes him straight away.
- Played Straight with Ryan when he tries to convince Mancuso that Ramius is trying to defect. He convinces the Captain that he knows enough about Ramius to make this determination by claiming the ability to predict which direction Ramius would turn on his next Crazy Ivan (he later reveals that he was lucky; he made a blind guess about the turn, figuring Mancuso wouldn't know Jack's prediction was bullshit ahead of time and he only had two options to guess from: Port or Starboard.)
- 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.