We Just Can’t Get Over the Best Submarine Movies, From ‘The Hunt for Red October’ to ‘U-517’

These Submarine should appeal to you.
  • Movies about submarines sometimes combine the anxiety of being underwater with underwater dangers like enemy vessels, which helps the films thrive on claustrophobia and suspense.
  • The films The Boat (1998) and K-19: The Widowmaker (200) both manage the extraordinary accomplishment of eliciting sympathy for the Russian and Nazi sailors, respectively.
  • Popular submarine films like Crimson Tide (1995) and The Hunt for Red October (1990) are dramatic and riveting with violent crew member tensions and clashes.

The genre of submarine films is fascinating. The films have a special sense of claustrophobia and suspense because of where they are set, especially aboard the submarine itself. The best make use of this, with Wolfgang Petersen’s The Boat serving as a shining example. In these films, individuals aboard battle not just the pressure of being underwater but also an unidentified undersea menace or hostile warships out to destroy their submarine. Here is the top of the underwater world, with all due respect to The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.

The Hunt for Red October (1990)

The Hunt for Red October is the preferred summer read if The Boat is the equivalent of a textbook. Easily the most well-known of the type, October is set in 1984, during the height of the Cold War, and features the Soviet Union’s development of the Red October, a revolutionary nuclear submarine with a cutting-edge propulsion technology that operates silently. Regrettably, Captain Marko Ramius (Sir Sean Connery) has taken the submarine in the wrong direction, towards America. The United States thinks Ramius intends to attack. Before it reaches America, the Russians are sending out their air and naval troops to halt it. The only person with a different interpretation of events is Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin), who thinks Ramius plans to defect. The last confrontation with another Soviet warship in the dramatic and thrilling movie

U-571 (2000)

A U.S. Navy submarine is dispatched to capture the German U-boat U-571 and take the Enigma machine coding equipment from it after intercepting a distress signal. After overpowering the Germans, the American crew board the U-boat and take over command. While heading the submarine towards Cornwall, Lieutenant Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey) runs with American and German soldiers that want to destroy it. After its premiere, the somewhat unremarkable movie sparked controversy when British Prime Minister Tony Blair criticised it in Parliament for “Americanizing” a significant period in British war history.

The Boat (1981)

The movie that marked the beginning of filmmaker Petersen’s career in Hollywood is a classic in the field. The cast of the movie follows the German U-boat as it is surrounded by British warships. They are a cramped, constricted mass dealing with extremes of utter boredom to horrific times of tremendous anxiety, and they are undoubtedly on edge. A rare feat is achieved in this gritty, hard-hitting movie: empathy for Nazis.

K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

K-19: The Widowmaker, which is based on a real story, depicts the 1961 launch of the K-19, the USSR’s first nuclear ballistic submarine. Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford), commander Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson), and the crew are in risk of dying when the nuclear reactor aboard the ship malfunctions and starts to leak. The very real possibility that another Chernobyl-like incident may start World War III heightens the danger. Similar to The Boat before it, director Kathryn Bigelow expertly employs the captivity and countdown components in K-19 to elicit sympathy for a group of Russians.

72 Meters (2004)

During simulated manoeuvres, a Russian sub unintentionally collides with a World War II naval mine, and the resulting explosion wrecks the ship. The explosion results in the deaths of several crew members, and the weakened vessel is now absorbing water, leaving only one compartment dry. The survivors congregate in the compartment as they plot their torpedo tube escape. There is only one issue: only one breathing device is charged and functional, and they are 72 metres below the surface. It’s not a terrific movie, with narrative techniques that defy plausibility and subplots that don’t offer much, but it’s nonetheless entertaining.

Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)

A year after the Japanese destroyer Akikaze sank his former command in the Bungo Straits, Commander P.J. Richardson (Clark Gable) is assigned command of a new submarine, the USS Nerka. When Richardson takes over, he blatantly defies his instructions by driving the ship to the Bungo Straits to get revenge on the Akikaze. The crew is furious about the infringement, but when the Nerka is assaulted, they have to defend themselves. Three crew members are killed in the attack, and Richardson is rendered unconscious. After taking over, Lieutenant Commander Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster) must choose whether to complete the task Richardson started or go home. A fantastic movie with some terrific action moments that, once again, makes full use of the claustrophobic element of the genre.

Torpedo Run (1958)

The USS Grayfish is to be used by Barney Doyle (Glenn Ford), the captain of a World War II submarine, to sink the Japanese aircraft carrier Shinaru, the vessel that launched the Pearl Harbour attack. Doyle has a personal stake in the operation since he is upset over the Japanese taking his wife and infant daughter hostage ten months earlier. Good news: the daughter and wife are both still alive. The bad news is that they are on a transport that is also screening the Shinaru and is transporting American POWs. Doyle must now make a difficult choice, and the movie masterfully makes use of the choice’s final result and its effects.

Crimson Tide (1995)

It’s an above-average action thriller that benefits from having Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman in the key roles. The Americans sent out ships, notably the USS Alabama, to prepare for possible military action after certain nuclear weapons were taken by Russian separatists. On the boat, Captain Ramsey (Hackman) is teamed with Commander Hunter (Washington). The two had sharp disagreements on how an incident on board the submarine should be handled. They then get instructions to assault, but as they are getting ready, a second command may only be partially received owing to communication damage. They are now faced with a decision between Hunter’s call to assault as directed originally and Ramsey’s request to make contact once more before acting.

Ice Station Zebra (1968)

When the crew of the USS Tigerfish is deployed to look into a distress signal from Ice Station Zebra, a British scientific meteorological station in the Arctic, espionage goes underwater. When it is learned that there is a saboteur aboard who wants to put an end to the rescue attempt, things become complicated. Why, I hear you ask? The Soviet Union created a camera that was put into orbit to photograph American missile silos, but it also captured images of Soviet missile silos after stealing technology from the British and Americans. The British and the Soviets have deployed spies to try to obtain the movie first because it so happens that it was ejected and fell close to the station.

The Command (2018)

The 2000 K-141 Kurst submarine catastrophe was dramatised. The Russian submarine K-141 Kursk sinks during a naval drill, killing all 118 crew members. With the exception of 23, the most of the crew perish, giving the survivors little chance or room to live. Families of the survivors are currently battling bureaucratic hoops in an effort to learn more about their loved ones. British officer Commodore David Russell (Colin Firth), who is frantically trying to get a Russian authorization that would allow for an attempted rescue, is also entangled in the red tape. Another cliche in the genre, the sailors who are let down by their superiors, is perfectly illustrated in The Command.

Hunter Killer (2018)

While pursuing a Russian submarine in the Arctic, the American submarine USS Tampa Bay vanishes. The recently promoted commander of the USS Arkansas, Joe Glass (Gerard Butler), is sent to conduct the investigation. A Navy SEAL squad commanded by Lieutenant Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens) is dispatched to watch a Russian naval facility in the Arctic while the Arkansas travels north. They discover something startling: Dmitri Durov, the Russian defence minister, has kidnapped Zakarin, the Russian president (Alexander Dyachenko), and wants to start a war. It’s a good movie, especially if you like Butler’s Has Fallen series.

Black Sea (2014)

Jude Law plays Robinson, a recently sacked submarine commander for a marine salvage firm, in Black Sea, one of the few films in the genre that doesn’t involve military personnel on board the submarine. He gathers a crew in quest of a rumoured sunken Nazi U-boat loaded with gold ingots, risking everything. The U-boat is allegedly in the Black Sea, which is home to a hostile Russian naval fleet, which presents a concern. It’s interesting concept in the submarine movie game makes it worth viewing.

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