'K-19: The Widowmaker' [Blu-ray]
(Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, et al / Blu ray / PG-13 / (2002) 2010 / Paramount)
Overview: Inspired by a true story, K-19: The Widowmaker follows Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) who, at the height of the Cold War, is ordered to take over command of the nuclear missile submarine K-19, pride of the Soviet Navy. His assignment: prepare the K-19 for sea and take her out on patrol - no matter what the cost.
Blu ray: The Soviet Union would not see the errors of their ways, until the Chernobyl disaster. On the K19, nuclear power would make this submarine the flagship of the Soviet Navy. As we see at the beginning of the film, it's Captain is deservedly frustrated with the Soviet procurement system that delivers sub-standard parts to be fitted to it's "flagship". He utters his displeasure publicly, which gets him demoted to Executive Officer, and a hardline Captain that has but one objective: To "successfully" test and evaluate the K19's abilities to function as a strategic weapon.
Add to this volatile mix a green Reactor Officer, who replaces the original Reactor Officer, after the latter is relieved of duty for drunkenness (which is to plague the Soviet Forces, as it does it's Citizens). Nothing good can come of this, and that assessment is proven right, when the Captain issues orders that at first glance, puts the boat in direct danger of foundering. The boat does well, after all, but the tension between the two Senior Officers places the rest of the K19's Officers to rally behind the XO, and rally they do, after one of the K19's reactors goes critical, because of (here we go again) shoddy workmanship.
During the crisis, the XO relinquishes command back to the Captain, and it is here, where we see the crew work as one to not only save the boat, but themselves as well. The first seven crewmen to affect repairs to the reactor are sure goners, as the levels of radiation in the reactor room are well past lethal. Repairs are successful, after the second try, and the Captain makes the difficult decision to surrender the boat to American Authorities, because he realises that to wait for help from Soviet Naval Authorities means there will likely be no one left alive to see the boat limp home. All this becomes unnecessary when another Soviet sub comes to the K19's aid!
During the Captain's Mast, those Officers who were able to testify to the actions of the Captain during this crisis all came forward to state that the Captain issued orders that saved the boat, and the men left in his care, as well as the Soviet Union, from Nuclear attack by the United States, were the worst to happen, after the disaster. For all this, he never commanded another vessel for the remainder of his career. The dedication at the end of the film gives one a sobering view of how the Soviet Machine regarded it's human component.
There are thrills and chills aplenty in this film. Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson are effective as Captain Vostrikov and the Captain-demoted-to-XO Polenin. Peter Sarsgaard plays the green Reactor Officer very well, and is quickly becoming an Actor to watch for.
There are special features of note on the DVD, such as a "making of", and three featurettes on the technical aspect of creating the K19 for the screen. While "K19, The Widowmaker" isn't the best Submarine film (that title still belongs to "Das Boot") out there, it is exceptionally entertaining. [MM] This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Commentary: Commentary by director Kathryn Bigelow and cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth
Featurette: The Making of K-19: The Widowmaker
Featurette: Exploring the Craft: Make-Up Techniques
Featurette: Breaching The Hull
Featurette: It's In The Details
Theatrical Trailer (HD)