Quantcast
  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

MOVIE REVIEW


 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

History gets hokey Hollywood treatment in weak 'Phantom'

By Walter Addiego

San Francisco Chronicle

POSTED:

Type caption here

A game effort by a decent cast highlights the old-fashioned submarine thriller "Phantom," but heavy-handed dialogue, flurries of melodrama and a silly ending make the whole enterprise sink like a stone.

The film, set during the Cold War (but feeling vastly older), announces that it's based on the real-life sinking of a Russian submarine in May 1968 that might have led the superpowers to war. But the story that follows is much more Hollywood than history — a stab in the dark by writer-director Todd Robinson ("Lonely Hearts").

Demi, a veteran Russian captain (Ed Harris) whose career was derailed by a tragic incident — cue clunky flashbacks — is given a mysterious assignment aboard a dilapidated, diesel-powered sub about to be sold to China. It happens to be his old ship, a very broad hint that further unhappiness lies ahead.

‘PHANTOM’
Rated: R
*
Opens today at Kapolei 16

"Phantom's" characters are sketched quickly — Demi is the troubled but humane skipper; his chief officer (William Fichtner) is the loyal supporter; and a technician (David Duchovny), who has brought aboard a piece of hush-hush equipment, is the icy fellow with the sinister agenda. (This sub, you should know, is nuclear-armed.)

The men throw familiar submarine lingo at each other ("rig for silent running") with nary a Russian accent in sight, which somehow feels wrong here.

The film does achieve a few tense moments as the sub, despite Demi's hesitancy, plays cat-and-mouse with American and other foreign vessels.

Tensions grow. Torpedoes are launched and explode. Sweating men crawl through the sub's tight spaces. Eventually, there's a power struggle, and Demi loses control. But he isn't only tortured with guilt — he's resourceful.

At the climax, Demi speechifies about how America values individuals and would never launch a nuclear first strike — opinions based, apparently, on a single U.S. visit he made. The bad guys are die-hard believers in the supposed Soviet destiny of world rule.

Our hero needs purgation and redemption, and does he ever get it. The film ends with a groaner of major proportions.

Harris, Fichtner and a few other cast members (Duchovny less so) come off reasonably well, a testimony to their craftsmanship. But a hokey script and stilted direction throw cold water onto "Phantom's" ability to thrill.






 Print   Email   Comment | View 0 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(0)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
IN OTHER NEWS
Latest News/Updates
Blogs