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YMMV / The Hunt for Red October

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The movie seems to imply that the real reason for Ramius defecting was less anger of his wife's 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 are more that he no longer has any reason to go back home.
    • It could also be said (based on both the book and the film), that the death of Ramius' wife by an incompetent/drunk, Party-connected doctor got him 90-95% of the way there, then seeing the plans for the Red October filled up the defection meter the rest of the way, as he recognized how destabilizing this new sub design would be for world peace.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Tom Clancy really struggled to get the book published, dealing with massive publisher disinterest. He finally tried taking it to the Naval Institute Press, for whom he had previously written a number of nonfiction articles, and they agreed to print it as their first-ever foray into fiction. The novel turned into a surprise bestseller after President Ronald Reagan read it and spoke in favor of it.
  • Awesome Music: Courtesy of Basil Poledouris. Particularly the Soviet-like choirs of "Hymn to Red October" and "Ancestral Aid".
  • Broken Base: Don't expect a fast or easy argument between whether the book or the movie is better. Both are quite well known and well regarded in spite of some notable plot and character differences
  • Common Knowledge:
    • "Sean Connery plays a Russian sub commander". Except Ramius is Lithuanian, which is a key plot point in his defection. So, he is a commander of a Russian sub, but not a Russian commander of a Russian sub. (It's like a "large animal hospital" - is it a large hospital, or a hospital for animals that are large?)
    • Much of this confusion comes from the fact that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was technically many different republics unified under a single soviet, which was a type of governing council. Each of the republics (to include Russia) had their own soviets, though all were subservient to the Supreme Soviet. So technically, the Soviet Union wasn't just Russia, and not all Soviets Russians, although in practical terms Russia more or less ruled the Soviet Union and dominated it demographically and culturally by a very large margin, leading to the common conflation in the West. This also led to the weird but important historical footnote that the last country to declare independence from the Soviet Union was Russia, at which point the USSR effectively disintegrated.
  • Designated Villain: Strictly speaking, none of the antagonists (Putin, Loginov, or Tupolev) do anything particularly villainous apart from being barriers between the heroes and their goal of seizing a Soviet warship and her payload of thermonuclear warheads.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Jones among the American sailors, Captain Borodin among the Russian defectors and Dr. Petrov among the non-defecting Russians.
  • First Installment Wins: Widely regarded as the best novel -and film- of the Ryan-verse, if not Tom Clancy's best (in contest with his second published novel, Red Storm Rising)
  • Genius Bonus:
    • "I have become Death, destroyer of worlds", an "ancient Hindu text", was also uttered by Oppenheimer during the explosion of the atomic bomb (a fact to which Ramius alludes in the film).
    • It's mentioned early on in the film that orders have come down directly from the USSR's leader, Konstantin Chernenko, for the Soviet navy to find and sink the Red October, which is treated by the American characters as a sign of how dire the situation is (before Jack spots the thread and realizes that Ramius actually intends to defect). In real-life Chernenko was in extremely poor health throughout his brief tenure as Soviet leadernote  and delegated most of the important decisions to his subordinates, indicating just how serious things were if the Soviet military actually thought it important enough to be worth bothering him with.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The fate of Konovalov in the book is very close to that of Kursk, right up to the rescue buoy being stuck.
    • Jack's uneasiness with handling a gun, coupled with Ramius explicitly warning him, "Be careful what you shoot at", is quite uncomfortable after Alec Baldwin fired a gun that was accidentally loaded with real bullets while making the film Rust, killing the cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injuring the director Joel Souza in October 2021, and was later charged with accidental manslaughter. As an eerie coincidence, Hutchins grew up in Murmansk, the site of Red October's launch within the film.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Idiot Ball: An Alfa-class nuclear attack submarine is by design both extremely swift and nimble, whereas the Typhoon-class (the largest submarine class ever built) are half as fast and not nearly as maneuverable. Despite this, at several points in the final battle the Typhoon-class Red October (while operating on a skeleton crew) outmaneuvers the Alfa-class Konovalov, even managing to get behind the Konovalov without its captain even noticing. This is analogous to a Lamborghini being outmaneuvered by a school bus, and basically only possible because the Konovalov's captain is both an "arrogant ass" and colossally incompetent.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Captain Marko Ramius is a genius Soviet naval tactician known as the "Vilnius Schoolmaster" for having trained many USSR naval officers. Becoming disillusioned with the Soviet cause after the death of his wife, Ramius uses the launch of the Red October prototype nuclear submarine and its silent "caterpillar drive" to defect to the United States with the rest of his officer staff after murdering The Political Officer by making it look an accident and assuring the crew about the "secret nature" of their mission. Ramius' tactical insight allows him to evade both the Soviet and US navies until he can make contact with Jack Ryan, a CIA analyst who managed to decipher Ramius' real intentions. After evacuating the crew by faking a reactor meltdown and disposing of a GRU stowaway, Ramius manages to turn an enemy Soviet submarine's torpedo against itself and successfully defects with the Red October in tow.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we will be lucky to live through it."
    • "Give me a ping, Vasily. One ping only, please."
    • "Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan."
    • "You've lost another submarine?"
  • Narm: To some native Russian speakers, Sean Connery speaking Russian in his trademark Scottish accent is hilarious. It's kind of justified in that Connery's character is Lithuanian, so Russian wouldn't be his native language to begin with. Of course, that still doesn't make sense as Baltic accents (Lithuanian and Latvian) sounds nothing like Scottish. Also, Alec Baldwin's American accent when speaking Russian is so thick as to be unintelligible.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Political Officer's death. Ramius suddenly grabs him and slam him into the table before brutally crushing his windpipe, leaving him to fall onto the floor where's he's lets out a final breath has his face is contorted in a silent scream.
  • Older Than They Think: The caterpillar drive is very similar to the 'underwater jet' in Tom Swift Jr. and His Jetmarine, first published in the 1950s
  • One-Scene Wonder:
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • You can see the bluescreened landscape through Alec Baldwin's hair at the end of the film.
    • Also, the torpedoes are all-too-obviously animated. Which just goes to show that even Industrial Light & Magic can have an off day.
  • 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.
  • Tear Jerker: "I would have liked to have seen Montana."
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • It's naturally become quite amusing to see how much Tom Clancy gushes over then-cutting edge computing technology in 1984, to say nothing of its prominent focus on the Cold War, which at the time had been seeing the highest levels of hostility since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
    • Like the novel, the film became an inevitable one as a result of its heavy focus on the Cold War, which was technically still occurring at the time. Although the situation had rapidly deescalated between the novel's publication in 1984 and the film's release in 1990 (with the Soviet Union already being a hair's length away from total collapse), the idea of rogue generals being eager to reignite the flames was still an open possibility.
    • Indeed,the MAD satire of the film at the time was called "Search For Last October"!