Square and sturdy, like a 4-storey building that could support twenty floors, this residuum of Tom Clancy’s techno-jargon’d Cold War thriller delivers the goods in stately meticulous fashion. No narrative elisions will do! Sean Connery burrs effectively as the renegade Russian Captain of a nuclear-powered ‘stealth’ sub barreling Stateside. Is he attacking or defecting? No matter: Ruskies will take action against him as traitor; Americans against an aggressor. Only Alec Baldwin’s Jack Ryan, thinking-man CIA action figure, thinks to offer safe harbor. Typically for one of these Clancy doorstops, it’s more blueprint verisimilitude than storyline; tough to get on screen. With characters no deeper than the material of their uniforms, everything depends on pacing, star power & production design; all specialties of producer Mace Neufeld & missing-in-action director John McTiernan.* And if the only real surprise in the pic is a submarine the size of a felled skyscraper cornering underwater like a Maserati, the film does have its pleasures as celluloid comfort food.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *Whereas Baldwin blew off the inevitable sequel to play STREETCAR’s Stanley Kowalski on stage, confounding & infuriating Hollywood with what seemed hubristic Movie Franchise-icide (Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine & John Krasinski all smoothly stepped in), action-oriented hit-maker McTiernan found his career stifled after ROLLERBALL/’02 and BASIC/’03 tanked. Eleven credits & out at only 52. Maybe, like Baldwin, he should have refused genre type-casting.