'The Command' [Blu-ray+DVD+Digital]
(Colin Firth, Matthias Schoenaerts, Léa Seydoux, Peter Simonischek, et al / Blu-ray+DVD+Digital / PG-13 / 2019 / LGF)
Overview: Colin Firth stars in the unforgettable true story of the K-141 Kursk, a Russian flagship nuclear powered submarine that sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea in August 2000.
As 23 sailors fought for survival aboard the disabled sub, their families desperately battled bureaucratic obstacles and impossible odds to find answers and save them.
Blu-ray Verdict: Directed by the highly attune and skilled Thomas Vinterberg, 'The Command' (aka 'Kursk') offers excellent production values, cinematography and performances, but falls victim to its own conceit in attempting to interweave muddled, inconsistent political statements; resulting in a film that alternates between tense action and maudlin sentimentality.
As aforementioned, as the sailors fight for survival, their families desperately battle political obstacles and impossible odds to save them. Ergo, as we quickly discover, the futile and ineffective efforts of the families have little to do with the through line.
But considerable attention is devoted to opening and closing scenes presented in a distractingly claustrophobic cropped frame, as well as raucous town hall meetings evocative of contemporary meetings disrupted by virulent activists promoting radical political ideologies.
The Russian bureaucracy is presented again, again and again as obstinate and deceitful, leaving one to wonder if the filmmakers are attempting to make a statement about contemporary claims of Russian interference and hegemony.
Although framed as a tragedy, the film isn't in the classical sense of a noble hero brought to ruin by a personal flaw. However, there is a tragic element in a recurring plot device concerning timepieces which in a minor way impedes the protagonist's ability to perform his duties.
In the denouement, this device is woven into an apparent call out to the Resist! Movement. A scene evocative of the Sermon on the Mount seems to advocate income redistribution.
Yet, these apparent efforts to espouse liberal political ideologies are confused by other elements. The disaster is exacerbated by the Russian Navy's failure to properly maintain its fleet, suggesting more money should have been spent on the military.
The socialist/communist bureaucracy is depicted as corrupt, ineffective and incompetent, possibly as a cautionary note to accepting the political policies of Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders, and possibly even leftists like Warren and Pelosi.
The Russian military is depicted as ineffective and a theme is that all sailors are brothers, regardless of nationality, possibly suggesting that we should consider Russia a potential ally, rather than our natural enemy.
The movie joins a large group of recent films that seem compelled to make political statements at the expense of plot and character development. It could have been a much more effective thriller by focusing on the disaster and the efforts by the crew to overcome impossible odds.
Alternatively, it could have been a melodrama, focusing on the efforts of the wives to persuade intransigent bureaucrats, particularly Max von Sydow's Petrenko, to admit failure and take the moral high ground instead of blind obsequiousness to party dogma.
Ergo, and in closing, 'My Command' (which is based on Robert Moore's book "A Time to Die") is the happenings aboard a ship that are mostly speculative, at best.
In this sense it follows other sea-disaster films such as 'Titanic' and as aforementioned, becomes overly politically sensitive in its portrayals right from the off.
I mean, perhaps given the current Russian political climate, in relation to the West it could have ridden the gas pedal a wee bit lighter, but that all said the film truly does not deserve to become a political tool for any side in the new Cold War.
At worst, or best, this film is a single insight into how the Russia of today became the Russia it is today.
Oh, and as a capper, it's interesting to know that all families of the dead sailors received, which was for the very first time in the history, serious monetary compensation (a ten-year salary per sailor) and an apartment each based within major Russian cities. Almost all of them accepted this compensation. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.
'The Command' Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD will include the “Human Costs: Making The Command” featurette and will be available for the suggested retail price of $22.99 and $19.98, respectively.
Official 'The Command' Trailer