Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / The Hunt for Red October

Go To

  • 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.
  • Advertisement:
  • 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.
  • Critical Research Failure: Overlaps with outright Dan Browned in some instances:
    • The novel has a whole bunch of critical research failures regarding the internal layout of the Typhoon class missile submarine that, while understandable, also betrays a serious case of Art Major Physics (a submarine with a pressure hull that flattened would have an enormously compromised diving depth), which also extends to the properties of the impellers used in the Caterpillar Drivenote  and the ultra-high-pressure reactor plant used in the Alfa-class submarines note . The movie averts this with the Caterpillar Drive being turned into a magnetohydrodynamic propulsion system, which is more plausible and which have actually been built, but which are severely speed-restricted and wouldn't be worth using even on a missile submarine.
    • Advertisement:
    • The novel has Jack give the president and Jeffrey Pelt a run-down on how Soviet missile submarines differ from American ones - except that it's absolutely wrong. Soviet missile submarines from the Project 667 ("Yankee" and "Delta") classes were configured nearly identically to their American counterparts. Only the Typhoons had the differences in question.
    • Again from the novel - a major Russian naval base would have more than one surgeon on duty, and given the rivalry between the military and the Communist party, a drunk surgeon using his party connections to attempt to get away from a court-martial offense would have created one hell of an uproar and would be harshly punished for it. If Ramius had lost his wife to a drunk surgeon who was the son of a party official in the real USSR, he would have had his retribution pretty quickly and be backed up by his superiors all the way to the highest ranks.
      • This is partially justified: The novel goes into considerable detail on Ramius' life and the events that lead up to his decision to defect. His wife dying from a botched surgery by a drunk surgeon—who worked for a clinic that served the Party Elite and not the military—was just one of several unjust events he had been witness to or experienced. Ultimately, Ramius blamed the State for his wife's death. The final straw came at her funeral. The state had robbed him of being able to pray for her soul at her funeral and the comfort—or even just the illusion—that he may be reunited with her in the afterlife.
    • The novel's scheme of blowing up the USS Ethan Allen to confuse the Russians into believing that the Red October had sunk is ridiculous because the Ethan Allen class of missile submarine displaced in the range of 6000 tons, a full 1000 tons less than a Los Angeles-class sub like the Dallas and a fifth of Red October's whopping 30,000+ ton mass. Unless the Soviets were brain-dead they'd notice there was far too little debris for such a large submarine.
      • Partially acknowledged in-universe: while the Ethan Allen provided some debris and a SONAR signature from the explosion, the main part of the deception involved a depth gauge removed from Red October and dumped in the debris field along with an SS-20 Seahawk missile, bearing their serial numbers and other identifying marks. The location was also just a few hundred miles off the US Eastern Coast in deep water which makes it difficult for the Russians to make any attempt to salvage the wreckage themselves.
  • 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. As an eerie coincidence, Hutchins grew up in Murmansk, the site of Red October's launch within the film.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • 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."
  • 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 why a person from a Baltic country would sound Scottish. Also, Alec Baldwin's American accent when speaking Russian is so thick as to be unintelligible.
  • 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:
    • Rear Admiral Painter (played by actor and Tennessee senator Fred Thompson) has a small, but very memorable role in the film.
    • Jeffrey Jones has a single scene as Tyler, who is a subtle Mr. Exposition for Back Story of the Caterpillar tech.
  • 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 and Magic can have an off day.
  • Tear Jerker: "I would have liked to have seen Montana."