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Jack Ryan, a writer on tactics of war,
Gets word of a threat that he needs to explore.
He flies to his CIA boss to expound
On a new Russian sub of which photos were found.
More research reveals that the foe could arrive
Off the coast unbeknownst to us, due to a drive,
A unique “caterpillar” that keeps the sub quiet,
And government leaders are disheartened by it.
The captain named Ramius may be en route
To bomb us and trigger a worldwide dispute,
But analyst Ryan has come to suspect
That the great Marko Ramius wants to defect.
Indeed, Marko leaked to Moscow in a letter
That the sub Red October will go someplace better.
Though Ramius’ officers want to leave too,
They’re not necessarily sure of the crew.
So Russia’s fleet frantically searches the sea
For a trace of this sub they built so secretly,
But the USS Dallas is solo in knowing
Or having a clue where this covert sub’s going.
Meanwhile, ol’ Ramius soon is quite sure
That a sailor on board is a spy saboteur,
So his officers fake a bad nuclear leak
That gets the whole crew off, a clever technique.
When Ryan realizes the Dallas’s status,
He’s dropped from a chopper with some apparatus.
The Dallas’s crew helps to bring Jack aboard,
And Ryan soon proves that he won’t be ignored.
Though Captain Mancuso, still hot in pursuit,
Has orders to find Red October and shoot,
He listens to Ryan, who says they must talk,
And both steer a rescue sub over to dock.
On board Red October, Jack hunts down the spy
Before he can blow the whole vessel sky high.
A Russian sub also attempts to destroy
The renegade craft that has left its employ.
October’s maneuvering with not a flub
Diverts the torpedo to hit the bad sub.
The Russians believe that October was hit,
So Marko and Jack can relax for a bit.

I’ll be honest that I have not seen any of the other movies featuring Jack Ryan, Tom Clancy’s less-glamorous answer to James Bond, so I have no idea how successfully Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, or the recent Chris Pine have carried on the role that Alec Baldwin began in The Hunt for Red October. My VC, however, loves Red October with a passion and considers it to be the best role of Baldwin’s career; Rotten Tomatoes also indicates that it was the best of the Jack Ryan adaptations, with a significantly higher 95%.

It’s a taut thriller to be sure, though it does take a while for events to heat up. Much of the first hour is spent with guesswork about what the sub is, where Ramius is going, and what his intentions might be. Some cool underwater effects highlight the midsection, but once Ryan gets aboard the Dallas, things really get good. The finale featuring a sub battle and Ryan’s confrontation with the spy simultaneously is among the most gripping climaxes of any thriller.

There are also quite a few recognizable names I had forgotten in the credits. Aside from Baldwin and a brief cameo by Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher from Star Trek: The Next Generation), we have Scott Glenn (The Right Stuff, The Silence of the Lambs)as Captain Mancuso of the Dallas; Jeffrey Jones (Principal Rooney in Ferris Bueller) as a bearded sub expert; James Earl Jones (Darth Vader) as Ryan’s boss; Tim Curry, Stellan Skarsgard, and Sam Neill as Russians with varying loyalties; and the ever-distinguished Sean Connery as Captain Ramius. Connery bestows a unique dignity to all of his films, proving himself a thespian of the highest order. Plus, my VC loves the scene in which he eats with his officers, claiming that he has “chewable lips,” which she read in a magazine some years ago. Women.

While many were skeptical how well the convoluted Clancy novel would fare on the big screen, The Hunt for Red October surpassed expectations and even won an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing. It certainly deserves a place on my list and any list of great political thrillers.

P.S. Today I am celebrating my 100th poem in this year-long challenge!!!!!!!!! While I’m a tad behind, I plan to catch up somewhere along the line. Thank you to all of you who have liked and followed my blog along the way, and I ask that you continue to push that “like” button whenever you can. Every “like” fills me with satisfaction that I’m doing something right anyway. Feel free to comment as well about any movies you enjoy or if you disagree with anything on my list so far. Here’s to the next 265!

Best line: (National Security Advisor Jeffrey Pelt, when the Russian ambassador says that they have lost contact with the sub sent to destroy Red October) “Andrei, you’ve lost another submarine?” (And he’s eating jelly beans!)

Artistry: 7
Characters/Actors: 8
Entertainment: 7
Visual Effects: 7
Originality: 7
Watchability: 6
Other (language): -7

TOTAL: 35 out of 60


Next: #265 – Cloak and Dagger (1984)

© 2014 S. G. Liput