Hunter Killer is the new film for which Gerard Butler was invited to speak at the Pentagon in honor of the Navy’s birthday. Does being in a movie really give him the experience to do that? In most cases, probably not — but certainly not with this film.
In the movie, Butler plays an untested submarine captain who must partner with a group of U.S. Navy SEALs for a rescue mission when a rogue Russian general stages a coup and kidnaps the Russian President, threatening to start a global war.
This film’s biggest issue is that it is simply boring. The genre is very worn, and the script doesn’t do anything to break outside of the formula. The plot is generic, and the characters archetypal. The story can be broken down into three parts: break in, rescue the hostage, and escape. Because these things have been done in movies so many times before, they just aren’t exciting anymore.
Furthermore, the film has issues with pacing. It really could have spared to be twenty to thirty minutes shorter overall, as there is a lot of dead weight, especially towards the beginning. The whole first act, in which Butler’s team investigates the missing submarine, could have been shortened into a ten minute sequence or even been introduced as a briefing. This would have made the story tighter and perhaps more interesting.
The movie also has a hard time developing its characters. The film is literally named after a type of submarine, so it’s a shame that the story of the submarine crew is outshone by the story of the Navy SEALs. The only truly compelling character is Martinelli (Zane Holtz), one of the SEALs and the only character that is given a backstory that is interesting. The protagonist has a few decent moments of characterization, but these are few and far between.
Additionally, the movie’s execution is very lackluster. The production values make it seem almost as if it was going to be released straight-to-video, but the studio decided to release it in theaters to make a quick buck off of the cast. The CGI and cinematography are both quite bad. Much of the film looks like it was shot on a green screen.
Worst of all, though, the film feels like a waste of talented actors. It’s less surprising for Gerard Butler — he’s been in his fair share of B-grade action flicks. It is more surprising for actors like Gary Oldman and Michael Nyqvist, who are quite talented. Even though this was filmed before Oldman’s award-winning turn in Darkest Hour, it is nonetheless shocking to see the vast differences between the two performances.
Overall, Hunter Killer is a generic, boring action-thriller. That being said, some people in the audience seemed to enjoy it, so if this type of movie is in your wheelhouse, it is worth a shot.
Hunter Killer opens in theaters October 26.