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K-19: The Widowmaker

  PG-13 HD Closed Captioning

Kathryn Bigelow

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Plot Summary

A real-life historical incident becomes the basis for this military thriller from director Kathryn Bigelow that's reminiscent of such submarine dramas as Das Boot (1981), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Crimson Tide (1995), and U-571 (2000). Harrison Ford stars as Captain Alexi Vostrikov, a Russian naval officer who's being given command of the Soviet Union's first nuclear submarine, K-19, at the height of the Cold War in 1961. The vessel's previous commander, Captain Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson) has been demoted to executive officer following a botched test and his outspoken assertions that the flagship is not yet ready for deployment, but he curbs his resentment and resolves to serve his new superior well. Polenin's concerns are well founded: parts are not yet installed, equipment is missing, and the ship's doctor is killed in an auto mishap. Political pressure forces Vostrikov to sail his crew into the North Atlantic anyway, for a missile fire test that serves as a warning to the U.S. that its enemy is now its technological equal. The test is a success, but a disastrous leak in the K-19's reactor cooling system soon threatens to create enough heat to detonate the craft's nuclear payload — which would certainly be mistaken for the first salvo in a worldwide atomic exchange and spark the beginning of World War III. With no other option, Vostrikov orders his men to repair the damage in ten-minute shifts, irradiating them hopelessly. The conflict between the seemingly bureaucratic Communist Vostrikov and the more humane Polenin escalates, until a surprising twist reveals where both officers' loyalties truly lie.

Rotten Tomatoes Movie Reviews

TOMATOMETER

60%
  • Reviews Counted: 168
  • Fresh: 101
  • Rotten: 67
  • Average Rating: 6.1/10

Top Critics' Reviews

Rotten: Though this saga would be terrific to read about, it is dicey screen material that only a genius should touch. – Mike Clark, USA Today, Jun 24, 2010

Fresh: Bigelow hits all her marks and more within the narrow parameters. – Dennis Lim, Village Voice, Jul 24, 2002

Fresh: Bigelow is known for making good, visceral movies, but here she adopts a kind of dignified watchfulness, and that feels right for the material. – Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle, Oct 18, 2008

Rotten: What could have been a movie packed with historical significance and nail-gnawing underwater tension ends up little more than a lumbering public-service announcement for the human spirit. – Rex Reed, New York Observer, Jun 24, 2010

Read More About This Movie On Rotten Tomatoes

Customer Reviews

BOOST

One of the best Harrison Ford movies ever created in the history of mankind.

Great tool for ones that study leadership styles

A fine example of two different leadership styles. Both Captains had effective and not so effecitve styles of there own. This movie is aslo an example of communication of leaders intent, watch and see how it is the key piece of information that eventually lead to a successful operation, once it was understood by the crew of the Widow Maker.

Compelling and accurate historical drama

This is one of the best docudramas I have ever seen. It is powerful, deeply emotional, and historically accurate. One can't help but feel for these once former enemies, their pains and triumphs, their fears and courage. All of the acting is very well done, and the story is one of the most accurate told. The movie tells of the personal and public struggles of each man involved, from the cook to tha captain, and how they came together to save not just themselves, but their country and perhaps the world.

K-19: The Widowmaker
View In iTunes
  • $14.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 2002

Customer Ratings