The crisis in the former Soviet Union has intensified. With a nuclear base in the hands of nationalist rebels, the world is waking up to another Cuban missile crisis, and the USS 'Alabama' is dispatched to deep waters within striking distance of Moscow. Only executive officer Hunter (Washington) stands between hawkish Captain Ramsey (Hackman) and a pre-emptive strike. Conceived as a post-Cold War update on Fail Safe, this tense, lucid brinksmanship drama also incorporates elements from The Caine Mutiny, A Few Good Men, and every submarine movie you've ever seen. There's no disguising the braggadocio with which director Scott plays cat-and-mouse with nuclear holocaust, cranking up the excitement with crazy angles, hot reds and greens, and Dariusz Wolski's hyper, heat-seeking camera. The screenplay may be credited to Michael Schiffer, but the punchy dialogue has Quentin Tarantino written all over it. The cast has a ball. Hackman, especially, brings immense reserves of humour, dignity and conviction to his meatiest role since Unforgiven.