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K-19 The Widowmaker

Starring: Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson, and Peter Sarsgaard
Directed By:
Katheryn Bigelow
Rated: PG-13


Directed by Katheryn Bigelow, one helluva chickbabe who proves women don't just make chick-flick, girlfests, or 'period' pieces! Usually I love these Das Boot / U 571 things…. a phallic vessel filled with adorable accented beaus sporting military wear...purr.... what's not to love?

In K-19 The Widowmaker the movie makers serve us Liam (Pronounced: leeYUM) Neeson strutting about in handsome Russian naval wear, cutey-pie rising Peter Sarsgaard and that fine wine of a studmudffin, Harrison Ford thrown into the manly mix. I'd almost sign up for Naval missions if they had that kind of mansteak in the fathoms below folks!

So how did K-19 go so wrong in their mission to entertain and beguile us? The over dramatic monotoned grimace of Harrison and the on again/off again Russian accent of Liam Neeson combined with a plain old confusing melodramatic dull-o-rama story that's how.

The story, loosely based on a true event, follows the mission of K-19 a Russian nuclear submarine. It is to head north and see if it can launch a missile. A test missile since it's not wartime. (snore)

On the way tension starts to build (yawn) between the new Captain Alexie Vostrikov (Harrison Ford) and the old K-19 captain, now serving under him, Mikhail Polenin (Liam Neeson). The new Captain keeps drilling the crew; unload and reload a torpedo, fake a fire in quadron 3, and maneuver through a water leak in the galley. He even goes so far as to dive the sub down to near "crush" depth of 300 meters to see if the sub can do it. Ass. He endangers the lives of the crew in the name of rehearsing for battle.

The crew manages to make it though the Captain's testosterone festival of tests (obviously or there would be no movie) and arrive safely in the north to carry out the nuclear missile test.

They do, the missile works -- though where'd it go -- and K-19 is are reassigned (insert dramatic music). Now the happy-go-lucky (not) captain is to take his crew down to the coast of America and sit outside Washington and New York.

The mundane Caprain almost breaks a grin....almost. But wait. What's this? Uh-oh, the nuclear reactor has popped a gasket or something and has started to meltdown -- fast. The onboard nuclear gadget specialist Vadim Radtchenko (Peter Sarsgaard) isn't trained in this. So they all gather in the galley and peruse, literally, the manual on 'Troubleshooting Nuclear Meltdowns.' I laughed out loud I fear.

Young Vadim feels useless and stupid, as he should, and has a mental meltdown himself….

The crew really wants to care about the young scared pseudo- specialist but there's that needle thingy that keeps rising on the reactor and if it makes it to 1000 degrees they are going to blow bigger than Hiroshima so he's on his own to battle his inadequacy demons.

The crew is sent in to solder (?) the reactor with plastic masks and parkas, since the budget didn't seem to include radioactive protective radioactive gear for the nuclear sub. They go in turns each pair ten minutes. They come out repulsively poisoned of course. The soldering worked the coolant will cool down the reactor. They surface.

They see an American destroyer and the motherland-loving Captain refuses help for his radiation-exposed crew. Back in Russia they see this soiree at sea from the spy planes and start to think the good Captain is defecting and giving the enemy the sub as payment for freedom. This is not this guy's week.

But wait that needle in the reactor is rising again…so they do have to man stations and start all over. What? Was the script too short? Whatever. They dive to solder the reactor. But before they can send in the men two by two to their deaths in hopes of saving the world from another war if it blows, Vadim (you remeber him the non-knowledgable specialist from a few scenes back?) becomes a hero and has been in there twenty minutes fixing the leak unbeknownst to his fellow crew mates. Awe. Naturally he's human borscht when he comes out but a hero.

Okay this is technically a great story, especially since it's based on truth. But it would have been better served on The History Channel with Harrison Ford narrating nice black and white photos and the usual.

And speaking of Harrison Ford, when did he graduate from the Nicolas Cage School of Acting where the motto is: "One expression equals all expressions?" I mean Harrison Ford's expression never, even for an instant, changes.

Liam Neeson who is without a doubt one of the sexiest men alive was even yummier with the semi-Russian accent. Give me him, a bottle of vodka and a snowed in cabin anytime baby. But Serbian fantasies aside, this guy's a great actor.

It's this Peter Sarsgaard who played sweet inexperienced nuclear specialist Vadim Radtchenko that had my eyebrow erect with attention. He was wonderful in the sadly unseen Salton Sea and here he brings a pinch of humanity to a cast we otherwise just don't care about even with the pre-sub scene setups. Pete's scrumtious keep an eye out for this young delectable nummy manstar.

Skip this and rent Schindler's List again or have a Harrison Ford night and watch his guy running from a of the Lost Ark again. K-19 is too long and serious. The soundtrack is gorgeous. But come on after about two hours of Klaus Badelt's melodic orchestrations being piped into your head via the THX system you're hard pressed not to slip into sleepy-woo-woo.

History movies are great. But when they don't explain what's happening, why and how or didn't provide handy historical Cliffnotes© to those of us not familiar with the friggin' cold war maneuvers of Russian nuclear submarines we are just left feeling bored and stupid.

Snack Recommendation: Strawberry jam and water crackers with red wine…. it slows the radiation absorption


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