Gerard Butler Rejects Nationalism in Adrenaline-Fueled Military Thriller ‘Hunter Killer’

With Russia once again being being at the forefront of American politics, “Hunter Killer,” an action thriller based on “Firing Point,” a novel by Don Keith and George Wallace about an American submarine and Navy SEAL team who find themselves up against Russian evildoers, seems rather timely. However this isn’t just another patriotic thriller in which the Americans fight the Reds. The situation becomes complicated when the line between enemy and ally becomes blurred in this adrenaline-fueled adventure with an old-school feel.

“Hunter Killer” opens with the torpedoing of an American submarine in the Arctic. Baffled as to why this sub has gone off the radar, Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) sends another submarine to get to the bottom of the situation. To lead the sub, he appoints Commander Joe Glass (Gerard Butler), an unorthodox choice. Unlike most of his rank, Glass was not educated at Annapolis; instead, he worked his way from the bottom of the Navy ladder, making him more relatable to the men under his command, who see him as a outlier, one who apparently “gets lots of ass.” Glass proves to live up to his legend, exuding what those on those on the internet would call “big dick energy.” The same can be said for Lieutenant Bill Beaman (Toby Stephens), the leader of a team of Navy SEALs sent to spy on a Russian marine base. There, they discover that the Russian president, Zakarian (Alexander Diachenko), has been taken hostage by his own power-hungry Minister of Defense, Dmitri Durov (Mikhail Gorevoy), who has put into gear a potential coup.

Back in D.C., Fisk, along with Admiral Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman) and security official Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini), convenes with President Dover (Caroline Goodall) to discuss how to proceed, ultimately choosing to go in and save Zakarian. Goodall here bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain former FLOTUS and presidential candidate, and this can be no coincidence, though it’s doubtful this homage was meant as a middle finger to the current POTUS – “Hunter Killer” was filmed in summer of 2016, months before the election.

Back on the sub, Glass shows that he has more than swagger, making tough calls and rejecting any sort of nationalism for the greater good, even working side-by-side with a Russian commander (Swedish actor  Michael Nyqvist in one of his last roles) who first ends up on his boat as a prisoner. Almost all of the men (and one woman, who mostly just reacts and has a few lines towards the end) in uniform display true valor here as the Americans and Russians work together to defeat evil, something that brings out the warm fuzzies, especially considering today’s political landscape.

Overall, “Hunter Killer” doesn’t take itself too seriously, as is made evident by the numerous lively quips that are thrown in before and during action sequences. It definitely evokes another Butler action flick, “Olympus Has Fallen.” While some viewers may not be able to get past some of the cliches packed in here, many will find themselves appreciating the fun film for what it is, maybe even cheering in their seats, as many were at a recent L.A. screening.

Hunter Killer” opens Oct. 26 nationwide.