Raiders of the Lost Ark

K-19: The Widowmaker

K-19: The Widowmaker

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade



K-19: The Widowmaker
Review written by: Alex Sandell

"Okay, you're taller, but
I can point my finger at people
in a threatening manner!  Not
impressed? Did I mention
that I was Indiana  Jones?" 

All of the right-wing Republicans who let the word "communist" roll off of their tongues as though they're coughing up a vile hairball are going to have coronaries when they see this film.  Screenwriter, Louis Nowra, and director, Kathryn Bigelow, present the Russians in such a sympathetic light in this somewhat true story, that they should seriously consider stationing a nurse at each theater across the United States to check the blood pressure of any full-blooded, FOX NEWS worshipping, George W. Bush coveting patriot before he or she sits down in his or her stadium seat.

I was delighted with the way K-19 presented Russians as people, rather than caricatures.  They weren't bad guys from a Bond flick or loopy cartoon villains trying to stop a flying squirrel and talking moose.  They were heroes trying to prevent a Cold War World from going into World War III due to a faulty submarine and a few nuclear warheads that were about to have a premature ejaculation all over an American warship and NATO base.  The premise is captivating; the picture is not.

This celluloid product trivializes the actual events that took place on the K-19.  Although National Geographic assisted in helping with the accuracy of the movie, it still comes off as a fabrication of reality created by the Hollywood cash factory, and appears to be in pursuit of nothing nobler than big summer box office returns.  Why pay Harrison Ford 25 million to do a horrible job faking a Russian accent when there are actual Russian actors out there who could provide us with the real thing, and would work for scale?  When I think of the financial ruin Russia is currently in, and how far the country could stretch Ford's single paycheck, it makes me feel more than a little green about the gills to be a part of this crew of sailors afloat in the sea of American greed. 

As if to get the full 25 million dollars worth out of its star, the film chooses to focus less on the interesting and intense true-life events that happened aboard the K-19, than it does on an ongoing pissing match between Captain Alexei Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) and Captain Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson).  The excess amount of time devoted to the heated debates between Ford and Neeson's characters was obviously an attempt at getting as much quality "star-time" out of the picture as possible, even at the expense of the film itself.

K-19 had a lot of things going for it, but attaching Harrison Ford to the leading role wasn't one of them.  Ford is a, "look at me!" type actor.  This suits him perfectly for movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark or Blade Runner.  It doesnít work as well in a picture where you need to separate the character from the man playing him.  Widowmaker needed a talented ensemble performer who was either not very well known, or just happened to be a thespian chameleon (where's Philip Seymour Hoffman when you need him?). 

That being said, I can't decide if the screenplay was written around Ford, or if it already stunk before the mega-star signed on.  Maybe Iím blaming the wrong person by blaming Harry.  Maybe Ford just attached himself to yet another bad project with yet another bad screenplay.  The film rapidly deteriorates just when you think that it's finally getting good.  It isn't long after the movie finally becomes truly intense that we're thrown into a patronizing tearjerker of an ending that not even Philip Seymour Hoffman, much less Harrison Ford, could save.  NURSE!

 On a scale of 1-10?


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Text ©(Copyright) 2002 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].

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