Anthony's Film Review
K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)
Intense human drama about heroism in a time of war...
I want to first mention this interesting anecdote. K-19: The Widowmaker was the first movie I ever watched while on an airplane. Usually, I read a book while on a commercial flight, but someone nearby had seen it already and said it was good. I decided to take a chance and see it. Well, I must say that I like this movie a lot. I like it because it's a war movie that does not involve an attack on an enemy. It's a film that features the Soviets, people once considered enemies to Americans, but still portrays them as human beings.
Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson play the roles of Captain Vostrikov and Captain Polenin, respectively. Their performances are amazing, especially because their Russian accents give their roles so much authenticity. They lead the crew of the K-19 submarine as it makes its maiden voyage. The crew dream of the moment when the submarine makes its first attack on the United States. In the meantime, they perform their routine duties on the sub and also perform drills simulating emergency situations as Captain Vostrikov calls for them.
Soon, the submarine begins to run into danger, including a collision with an iceberg. The scene is interesting because the crew take a moment to get out of the submarine and play soccer while on the ice. Then the film reaches the major disaster for the K-19: a problem with the nuclear reactor. With only thin suits that barely provide protection against radiation, members of the crew try to fix it. But one by one, they suffer from radiation sickness. And despite an offer of help by the Americans, Captain Vostrikov is too stubborn to accept, afraid of shaming mother Russia.
As I mentioned already, the film portrays the Soviet crew as real people. Sure, there is a scene where the crew are watching footage of Americans dancing and despising the lifestyle of freedom, but other than that, there is nothing to show that they were savages. When disaster of any kind strikes, there is no need to see differences in others. In those circumstances, we realize that anyone involved deserve to be saved. The Russians seem no different from Americans, and for that matter, the same applies to the Germans, Japanese, Koreans, and Vietnamese involved in other major wars.
From start to finish, there is a mixture of drama, tension, and suspense. In the end, there was a smile on my face. This is a film with a well written script and an excellent cast. I also like it because it does not have battle scenes. That's not to say I don't like action scenes in war movies, but I like it when a film is about what is really important: the characters themselves. And in times of war, there is nothing more senseless than thinking other groups of people are different from you. Even the enemy is human. K-19: The Widowmaker reminds us of that.
For more information about K-19: The Widowmaker, visit the Internet Movie Database.