Film Review – Crimson Tide (1995)

Title – Crimson Tide (1995)

Director – Tony Scott (Top Gun)

Cast – Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Viggo Mortensen, James Gandolfini, Steve Zahn

Plot – With the world on the bring of a potential nuclear war, commanding officers on board American submarine USS Alabama Captain Ramsay (Hackman) and Commander Hunter (Washington) find themselves at war with one another after a set of potentially devastating commands are relaid to them via a broken communication device.

“In my humble opinion, in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself”

Review by Eddie on 25/08/2020

When you watch a Tony Scott movie you know there’s going to be very little in the way of holding back or subtlety, but the late great director sure knew how to have a good time with his films and provide that energy and fun to his audiences, with his 1995 submarine thriller Crimson Tide well and truly following that pattern.

Backed in by a typically full-stream ahead score by Hans Zimmer (a score that mixes operatic like music with more bombastic orchestra sections), a quip ready script by Michael Schiffer and most importantly the hot-headed double bill of Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington, Crimson Tide is a high concept thriller that may play things in an over the top fashion but does so in such a way that you can’t help but be sucked into this game of cat of mouse 100’s of feet under the sea.

Wasting little time or backstory in setting up a scenario where Russia and the United States have entered into a possible nuclear scenario together, Crimson Tide gets us quickly into the USS Alabama nuclear capable submarine that is run by Gene Hackman’s long-serving Captain Ramsay, who finds himself being tested by Denzel Washington’s second in charge Commander Hunter when an issue arises with their subs communications and the potential launch of a missile on the Russian state.

It’s a sweat inducing affair (not least in the fact that everyone in the film is constantly sweating it out in the tight confines) and one that might have some good moments of white knuckle tension but is at its best when its Washington v Hackman, in what’s one of the most enjoyable double acts of the era.

Renowned for his fiery intensity, Hackman is at his grouchy best as Ramsay and Washington his most stoic and determined as Hunter and as the two battle it out over what is right or wrong the film has a lot of fun with the fact that in many ways both these man are correct and incorrect in equal measure.

When actors of the caliber of these two A-list performers get a chance to chew on meaty dialogue and play off one another it can only end up one way and Crimson Tide allows its two best aspects plenty of time in the spotlight and while the film is a fine technical achievement there’s no doubt that you watch this for one reason and one reason only, the fireworks between two of the all time great actors of cinema.

Final Say –

A fun thriller that allows its leads to do what they do best up against one another, Crimson Tide is one of the more underrated works of Tony Scott’s filmography and one of the 90’s most purely enjoyable high-concept thrillers.

3 1/2 Jack Russell’s out of 5  

6 responses to “Film Review – Crimson Tide (1995)

  1. I definitely enjoyed this film quite a lot. When it comes to submarine thrillers, it’s probably my favorite, and the scenes with Gene and Denzel duking it out are absolutely spellbinding. Definitely a classic. Great post! 😊

  2. 1/2 a Jack Russell? That is dark. Which half? I’m going to disagree on this one, I think it’s a teensy bit overrated. The Tarantino script touch-ups are cringey (Tony Soprano going on about the Silver Surfer? Jog on Quentin) and I find it a bit samey after a while. I’d take a whole Jack Russell off your score. Still, if we all liked the same thing, it’d be a boring old world.

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