The 'Red October' is a silent submarine. Virtually undetectable on sonar, it constitutes a deadly first strike weapon, more than enough to tip the nuclear balance in the Soviets' favour. No sooner has it left port on its maiden voyage than Captain Raimus (Connery, terrific) breaks from the official course and heads for the US. Will he start a war, or defect? Despite the Cold War implications (the action is set disingenuously before Gorbachev), there's enough nuclear frisson and multi-lateral cynicism here to evoke Fail Safe, if not Dr Strangelove. McTiernan guides us surely threough the convolutions of an admittedly over-complicated plot, and adeptly links hi-tech with character. At its best, with Soviets, Americans and Raimus all at cross-purposes, the movie is an engrossing and exciting battle of wits. But when it attemptsto suggest an interior life in the characters beyond the job at hand, the results are at best perfunctory, more often corny, despite the high-calibre cast.
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