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'Hunter Killer' sinks as action thriller
Justin Hall
Justin Hall

One of the busiest go-to guys for silly, over-the-top action movies is Gerard Butler. Look no further than the Fallen movies (Olympus and London), Gods of Egypt, and Geostorm. Well, I guess whatever keeps the cash flowing, I suppose and that is no more evident than yet another action-oriented thriller, Killer Hunter.

In this one, he plays a Commander brought in by the Pentagon to investigate the disappearance of an American sub while it was tailing a Russian one. His character is a very unconventional leader whose no-nonsense approach to the mission makes the rest of the crew want to reenact 300 on the water and follow him into underwater Hades. Or something like that.

Back at the Pentagon, Gary Oldman plays an Admiral directing the operation and rapper-actor Common is another Admiral whose strategies oftentimes go conveniently ignored. Common gives a sympathetic performance, but hiring Oldman for a film like this is a bit of a Rorschach test: On the one hand, he gives great weight to just about any film he’s in and I don’t think he should give back his Oscar, but this material undermines his talent makes ultimately feel miscast.  

Meanwhile, Butler’s character and crew continue to find more and more developments underwater including a renegade Russian crew that has a choice of either becoming allies or risk being charged with treason mainly because the Russian president is onboard the U.S. ship after narrowly escaping a life or death situation. There’s also another subplot involving four Navy SEALs checking out a Russian navy base and sooner or later, I have a feeling they will be playing a role in this whole scenario.

This movie has one consistent torpedo that blows the movie apart and that is plot convenience. Every time we see a character about to meet their end, we know they will be rescued. Or when that renegade crew encounters some of their own and are forced to make their own choice as to join up or attack their enemy, we know full well which side they’ll choose.

You won’t see much in Hunter Killer that you haven’t seen in other submarine movies such as Das Boot and The Hunt For Red October. I felt there was so much that was well-made with a competent cast, but it’s put under the guidance of a one-hour screenplay.

Whenever it’s not following events for the convenience of the plot, it’s too busy diving into sluggish scenes that offer no real suspense.

From those aforementioned movies at the beginning of my review to this one, I’d say Gerard Butler keeps piling up one ridiculously stupid action movie after another. Don’t let your wallet get torpedoed by this unrelenting clunker.

Grade: C-

(Rated R for violence and some language.)

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