Halfway through submarine thriller Hunter Killer, the missiles start flying and the tensions amp up, and I was left to wonder if it switched directors mid-shoot.
The first half of this would-be great sub sub-genre film is a pot boiler with no apparent end-game in mind, where the second half is a rip-roaring, exciting action-packed endeavour.
Gerard Butler, restrained here, is a submarine captain caught in a game of politics with lives hanging in the balance as he tries to steer to safety. His muted performance shows he can hold back when he needs to, and lends itself well here.
His ship picks up a Russian general left for dead as a U.S. Navy Seal team is sent to rescue the Russian president from a rogue general. As allegiances shift and things become more problematic, the chess pieces keep moving through the thrilling conclusion.
The second half is a case of what could have been, and shows an extremely enticing B-grade actioner, the type Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin might have made in the 90’s.
But with a wasted performance from Oscar winner Gary Oldman and a ship that gets moving too late, Hunter Killer just can’t escape the plodding, murky waters and despite a thrilling final third act, never quite reaches maximum impact.