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K-19 : The Widowmaker [DVD] 
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During the Cold War, Russian captain Alexei Vostrikov takes the nuclear sub K-19 on her first patrol. But problems arise that may l ead to a meltdown that will kill all aboard, and possibly trigger nuclear war, forcing Vostrikov to choose between orders and his me n's lives. Inspired by a true story.
An intense dramatisation of a long-suppressed Cold War anecdote, K-19: The Widowmaker is the first big Hollywood film to view the conflict through a Soviet periscope, casting Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson (with slight accents) as patriotic Russians.
In 1961, as NATO deploys long-range nuclear attack submarines, the Kremlin forces the Russian Navy to follow suit, whether they're ready or not. Ford takes over from popular skipper Neeson in command of the eponymous submarine, riding the men hard through a missile test, and then coping with an escalating series of crises as a jerry-built reactor threatens to melt down (and perhaps start World War III).
Though the political specifics are fresh, this has all the expected elements of a sub movie, citing everything from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Das Boot to Crimson Tide and The Caine Mutiny as sailors bristle mutinously under a marine martinet. This, along with inept engineering and ideological interference, prompts disaster.
Director Kathryn Bigelow, the most undervalued talent in Hollywood, is in her element with heroic men under pressure, and a terrific central stretch has comrades trying to fix the reactor even though they've been given the wrong protective gear and start coming down with radiation sickness as they work. Less successful is a superfluous epilogue that pulls the old Spielberg present-day-reunion-of-the-aged-survivors-at-a-gravesite gambit. --Kim Newman
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