K-19 The Widowmaker
Time Out says1961: Struggling to keep up on the very first lap of the nuclear arms race, the Kremlin orders its flagship nuclear sub, the K-19, out of port under Capt Alexia Vostrikov (Ford). If that means ignoring concerns about her seaworthiness, so be it. As unyielding as naval commanders always seem to be in movies, Vostrikov is soon butting heads with his second-in-command, Polenin (Neeson); and it's to the paternalistic Polenin that the crew turn when the nuclear reactor core threatens to go into meltdown. Based on a true story that the authorities kept under wraps, this is an instructive addendum to Thirteen Days. By the logic of mutually assured destruction, the Soviets simply couldn't afford to be caught bluffing. There's little of the spark found in Bigelow's Near Dark or Strange Days, nevertheless, after a slow start, her neo-conservative study of duty, leadership and heroism builds to a tense, eloquent and surprisingly moving climax, as brave but hopelessly unprotected comrades expose themselves to radiation in a desperate bid to avert disaster.