Starring: Denzel Washington, Gene Hackman, Viggo Mortensen, George Dzundza
Director: Tony Scott
Studio: Hollywood Pictures Home Entertainment
Video: 2.40:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 widescreen, 1080p HD
Audio: English Uncompressed 5.1 PCM, English DD 5.1, French DD 5.1
Extras: Deleted Scenes, Featurettes
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Length: 116 minutes
Hollywood seems to have a thing about submarine movies, and at least every decade, one or two seem to surface above the pack in terms of story, action or the impressive quality of the acting. Crimson Tide falls squarely into the latter category; while there is a substantial amount of action that takes place in the film, most of the action takes the form of a battle of wills between Gene Hackman, the submarine’s commander, and Denzel Washington, his first officer. Terrorists have overtaken a Russian nuclear missile facility, and the Americans send their submarine fleet to take cautionary positions off the Russian coast, including Hackman’s ship, the USS Alabama. As the crisis escalates, the order is given for the Alabama to fire her missiles on the Russian facility; that order is soon followed by an additional transmission that appears to rescind the original order. However, an equipment malfunction won’t permit complete transmission of the message, and a battle for control of the sub ensues between Hackman and Washington, with the post-nuclear fate of the world hanging in the balance. The acting is nothing short of superb, and places this film alongside other classics of the genre such as Das Boot and Hunt For Red October.
The image quality of this release is superb, with deep, intense colors and none of the artifacts that were so constantly evident in my original DVD copy. Detail is sharp and crisp throughout; this is an excellent transfer from the original source. Where this movie takes a truly unexpected improvement from the DVD version is in the audio content; the uncompressed 5.1 PCM soundtrack is truly fantastic, and offers an immersive underwater experience that is far more involving and intense than on the DVD version. The Blu-ray also includes an extensive amount of bonus material that isn’t present on the DVD; although all is presented in standard definition, there’s still quite a bit here that’s worth a look.
Overall, this is an excellent presentation of an extremely well-acted movie; if you’re a big fan, this is definitely the version to own. Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington and a stellar supporting cast that includes veteran actors George Dzundza and Viggo Mortensen offer some of their finest work here; this Blu-ray disc comes highly recommended.
— Tom Gibbs