Crimson Tide

   

 

           I expect and demand your very best. Anything less, you should have joined the Air Force.

 

The film takes place in 1995 during a period of instability in Russia. An ultrarationist as taken control of a nuclear missile installation and is threatening nuclear war if either the American or the Russian Governments attempt to confront him.

The US nuclear strategic missile submarine USS Alabama is given the mission to go on patrol and be available to launch its missiles in a pre-emptive strike if the Russian nuclear installation attempts to fuel its missiles. Cp Frank Ramsey (Hackman) is the commanding officer of the sub, and one of the few commanders left in the Navy with any combat experience. He chooses as his new executive officer Liut Commander Ron Hunter (Washington), who has an extensive education in military history and tactics, but no combat experience.

The Alabama eventually receives an order to launch its missiles on the Russian nuclear installation, based on satellite information that the missiles are being fueled. Before the Alabama can launch its missiles, a second message begins to come through, but it is interrupted by the attack of a Russian submarine friendly to the ultranationalist cause. Too deep for communications, attacked by the hostile Akula and with an order in hand to launch, Captain Ramsey decides to proceed with the launch. XO Hunter refuses to concur as is procedurally required to launch, and instead tries to confirm the second message, which he believes is possibly a retraction of the previous launch order. As the command crisis escalates, Ramsey portrays the XO as an upstart Harvard graduate who does not respect his place in the chain of command.

Eventually, Hunter orders the arrest of Ramsey for attempting to exceed his authority. While Hunter is attempting to confirm the second launch message, the Russian sub reappears. An underwater battle ensues, in which the Russian sub is destroyed, but the Alabama is heavily damaged. The ship's communications are knocked out, several crew members are killed, and the boat takes on water, nearly sinking past the limit at which the submarine's hull will collapse. While Hunter waits for communications to be restored, officers loyal to the captain leave the conn together. Ramsey escapes confinement with their help to confront Hunter with charges of mutiny, placing the XO and officers who assisted him under arrest.

Ramsey nearly succeeds in launching the missiles, prevented only when Hunter persuades the weapons officer to stall for time while he re-takes the bridge with enlisted personnel by his side, furthering to contrast the differences between himself and Ramsey, who was released by only Officers loyal to him and at one point said "We'll lead from the top down" while Hunter has more support at the opposite end of the rank structure, likely due to his been more friendly and concerned about them than the Captain in several scenes. In the end, a standoff ensues, and the conflicted officers agree to wait until the last possible moment to launch the missiles. The communications equipment is repaired in time and it is revealed that the Russian army has the situation under control and the rebellion is subdued, eliminating the need to launch the missiles.

The movie culminates in a review at the Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii where several admirals express grave concern about the breakdown of nuclear launch operations in wartime. While the elder Ramsey voluntarily retires, and the young Hunter is recommended for a command by Ramsey, the movie aims to present the intractably uncertain nature of the launch scenario, in essence placing full blame on neither as well as both characters. A gentlemenís reconciliation between officers occurs at the closure of the film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Movie Script

Directed by Tony Scott
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Don Simpson
Written by Michael Schiffer
Richard P. Henrick
Starring Gene Hackman
Denzel Washington
Music by Hans Zimmer
Distributed by Hollywood Pictures
Release date(s) May 12, 1995
Running time 116 min.
Language English
Budget  

 

 

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