Hunter Killer (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Donovan Marsh|
|Based on||Firing Point|
by Don Keith & George Wallace
|Music by||Trevor Morris|
|Edited by||Michael J. Duthie|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Box office||$29.3 million|
Hunter Killer is a 2018 American action thriller film directed by Donovan Marsh, written by Arne Schmidt and Jamie Moss, and based on the 2012 novel Firing Point by Don Keith and George Wallace. The film stars Gerard Butler, Gary Oldman, Michael Nyqvist (in one of his final film roles), Common, Linda Cardellini and Toby Stephens, and follows a group of Navy SEALs who rescue the captured Russian President from a coup.
Hunter Killer was released in the United States on October 26, 2018, by Summit Entertainment. A box office flop, the film received mixed reviews from critics, who saw it as "an undemanding, by-the-numbers actioner".
A U.S. submarine, the USS Tampa Bay, vanishes while shadowing a Russian Akula-class submarine in the Arctic. Rear Admiral John Fisk sends a Virginia-class submarine, the USS Arkansas, under the command of newly-promoted and unorthodox Commander Joe Glass to investigate.
At the same time, a Navy SEAL team under the command of Lieutenant Bill Beaman is sent in to discreetly observe a Russian naval base, but their mission is swiftly complicated when Martinelli, the team's new DM recruit, is rendered unconscious during the HALO drop. When they arrive at the naval base, they witness defence minister Dmitri Durov conducting a coup d'état and taking Russian President Zakarin prisoner, and swiftly realize that Durov intends to trigger a war.
Meanwhile, the Arkansas discovers the lost U.S. submarine, and also finds a sunken Russian submarine damaged in a manner that suggests internal sabotage rather than external attack. They are attacked by another Russian submarine that has been hiding under an iceberg, but Glass is able to destroy the ambusher and rescue Russian survivors from the wreck, including submarine captain Sergei Andropov.
Back at base, the U.S. government learns about the coup. Admiral Charles Donnegan recommends preparing for war, while Fisk suggests that the Arkansas be sent to rendezvous with Beaman's team after they have rescued Zakarin. Glass manages to convince the reluctant Andropov to help, and with Andropov's knowledge of the minefield around the base, Glass navigates the Arkansas near the base undetected. Meanwhile, Beaman's team infiltrate the base and succeed in retrieving President Zakarin, but lose two teammates in the process. He delivers the injured president to the Arkansas's DSRV, then goes back alone for Martinelli, whom he was forced to leave behind due to prior injuries.
As U.S. and Russian fleets face off for battle, the Arkansas sustains further damage when they are attacked by Andropov's old ship — a heavily armed destroyer now commanded by Sutrev, a member of Durov's conspiracy — but Andropov is able to communicate a message affirming that President Zakarin is aboard the submarine. When Durov orders his forces at the base to fire missiles at the surfaced Arkansas, Glass refuses to take action, recognizing that firing back at the Russians could start the war he is trying to stop. In the last seconds, Andropov's old crewmates defy orders and destroy the incoming missiles with CIWS before they can strike the Arkansas, and subsequently destroy Durov's naval base headquarters with their missiles. With the war averted, Glass docks the Arkansas to the Russian naval base to return Zakarin and Andropov's surviving crew to their country. Glass and Andropov bid farewell and confirm their respect for each other. Beaman returns with an injured Martinelli, and the Arkansas crew travels to the U.S.
- Gerard Butler as Commander Joe Glass, commanding officer of USS Arkansas
- Gary Oldman as Admiral Charles Donnegan
- Common as Rear Admiral John Fisk
- Zane Holtz as Martinelli, U.S. Navy SEAL
- Caroline Goodall as United States President
- Alexander Diachenko as Russian President Nikolai Zakarin
- Michael Nyqvist as Captain Sergei Andropov, Commander of a Russian submarine
- Ilia Volok as Captain Vladimir Sutrev
- Mikhail Gorevoy as Defence Minister Dmitri Durov
- Igor Jijikine as Lt. Tretiak
- Yuri Kolokolnikov as Oleg
- Toby Stephens as U.S. Navy SEAL Lieutenant Bill Beaman
- Linda Cardellini as Jayne Norquist, National Security Agency senior analyst
- David Gyasi as the Chief of the Boat of USS Arkansas
- Gabriel Chavarria as U.S. Navy SEAL
- Taylor John Smith as Sonar Operator on USS Arkansas
- Michael Trucco as Devin Hall, TAO on USS Arkansas
- Ryan McPartlin as Matt Johnstone, U.S. Navy SEAL and Team Medic
- Richard Hills Jr. as Medic Jones
- Carter MacIntyre as Executive Officer Brian Edwards
- Kieron Bimpson as Nichols
On November 12, 2015, it was announced that a deal between producers of the film had been made, that Relativity, Neal H. Moritz, and Toby Jaffe's Original Film would now produce the film along with Millennium Films, which would also co-finance and distribute. On March 3, 2016, it was announced that Donovan Marsh would direct the film and Gerard Butler and Gary Oldman would star, with Original Film's Neal H. Moritz and Toby Jaffe producing the film along with Butler, Tooley Productions' Tucker Tooley, Alan Siegel, and Mark Gill. On June 23, 2016, Taylor John Smith was cast in the film to play a sonar man on the sub. On July 6, 2016, Gabriel Chavarria joined the film to play a Navy SEAL aboard the U.S. submarine, next day, Zane Holtz also joined the film to play "Martinelli," a brave and skilled member of the elite unit. On July 13, 2016, Michael Trucco and Ryan McPartlin also came aboard to play a weapons specialist Devin Hall, and an ex-SEAL and CIA medic Matt Johnstone, respectively. On July 19, 2016, Michael Nyqvist was added to the cast to play Captain Sergei Andropov. On July 21, 2016, David Gyasi joined the film to play the Chief of the Boat of the submarine USS Omaha, with Toby Stephens cast to play Lt. Beaman, head of the black ops squad. On August 4, 2016, Linda Cardellini joined the cast.
Principal photography on the film began on July 25, 2016, in London, and in Bulgaria. Interior sets of a Virginia-class Hunter Killer submarine were built at Ealing Studios, using blueprints approved by the U.S. Navy, with the spaces expanded slightly to allow freer camera movement. The sets were mounted on a gimbal to simulate the movement of the sea. Ealing also hosted a Pentagon set from where U.S. military personnel track the submarine action.
An exterior set of the main Hunter Killer submarine was built in Pinewood Studios’ 806,000-gallon exterior water tank, while underwater scenes were shot using a separate water tank at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, also just outside London. Interiors of the Russian base were built as sets at Nu Boyana Film Studios in Bulgarian capital, Sofia.
The offices of insurance company Legal & General in Kingswood, Surrey were used as a filming location for the Pentagon scenes.
In Ukraine, the film was scheduled to premiere on October 25, but the Ukraine Ministry of Culture denied it an exhibition license based on a 2012 law on cinematography that banned “the distribution and screening of films, the goal of which is to popularise the bodies of an aggressor state and/or Soviet state security organs”. According to a representative of Ukraine's Derzhkino, screening the film would be illegal because it contains a "positive image of the Russian president and admiral of the Russian army". Ukrainian-Russian relations have deteriorated since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea.
In Russia, the film was scheduled to premiere on November 1, but the film failed to obtain an exhibition license from the culture ministry. The ministry stated that copy of the movie, submitted by the distributor for review, was of poor quality and the replacement was submitted too late for the ministry to review it in time.
In the United States and Canada, Hunter Killer was released alongside Indivisible and Johnny English Strikes Again, and was projected to gross $5–9 million from 2,720 theaters in its opening weekend. The film made $2.6 million on its first day, including $420,000 from Thursday night previews. It went on to debut to $6.7 million, finishing fifth at the box office and marking the worst debut for Butler since Playing for Keeps ($5.8 million) in 2012. The film made $3.5 million in its second weekend, falling to ninth.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Hunter Killer holds an approval rating of 37% based on 100 reviews, with an average score of 4.7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Much like the submarine in its story, Hunter Killer cruises the murky action depths, following a perfunctory course into territory that's been charted many times before." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 43 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported filmgoers gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
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