Gerard Butler returns to the screen in Hunter Killerfrom Summit Pictures. Directed by Donovan Marsh with a script by Arne L. Schmidt, Hunter Killersan adaptation of the novel “Firing Point” by authors George Wallace and Don Keith. After a perplexing incident in the Arctic Ocean resulting in the sinking of both a US and Russian sub, Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) senses all is not right. With the permission of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Gary Oldman), Fisk tasks Captain Joe Glass (Gerard Butler) with saving the day.
On the other side of the world, a power hungry defense minister decides to kidnap the Russian president, to try to start World War III. Turns out the defense minister was responsible for the sinking of the Russian sub. Meanwhile, a Black Ops team led by Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens) is on assignment to rescue the Russian president for his captives.
Since I did not read the source material, I was initially under the impression that Hunter Killerwas going to be a low rent version of the classic submarine thrillers The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide. To my surprise, Hunter Killerends up as a semi- enjoyable popcorn flick. In the lead role of Captain Joe Glass, Gerard Butler plays a different kind of action hero. As opposed to using his fists or weapons, Glass uses strategy and instincts. It was a welcome change of pace for Butler, as in his prior action roles he was a more of a traditional action hero.
Hip-hop lyricist, Common, was good as Rear Admiral John Fisk. In his second military role, Common displays his usual confidant swagger and has great chemistry with NSA operative Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini). One of my favorite moments in Hunter Killeroccurs when John Fisk informs the female President of the United States of his plan to save the day.
With three different storylines going on, I have to say my favorite was the Black Ops one overall. Toby Stephens is great in his role as the Black Ops leader, Bill Beaman. The film’s action sequences all involved the Black Ops team taking out Russians in epic gun battles. Hunter Killer does have its share of problems as well though.
Arne L. Schmidt’s script for Hunter Killeris a futile attempt to condense a seven hundred-page novel into two hours. Throughout the film, there were moments when I would get into a character’s arc, and then the narrative would switch to another character. Hunter Killer might have come off better as a four-part miniseries, with the first three portions focusing on a different storyline, and then culminating in a fourth part that provides a resolution.
Also, I did not care for the usually reliable Gary Oldman as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In his first role since his Oscar win earlier this year, Gary Oldman looks bored, and it is apparent that Oldman only took this role for the paycheck. Finally, the film’s closing scene features some horrid CGI and green screen effects.
Despite a few flaws, I found enough in Hunter Killerto recommend the film for a matinee. Mixing a popcorn thriller with some decent acting, Hunter Killer doesn’t sink.
Final Grade: C+