Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide.
Crimson Tide is a philosophical debate on war. Captain Ramsey is old school military. He takes and gives orders without question. "We're here to preserve democracy, not practice it." Lt. Commander Hunter is a new age Officer. That is to say that he is a liberal in the wrong job. Of course this is a Denzel Washington movie, so Hunter is proven to be in the right.
Hunter went to that Liberal bastion known as Harvard. Early in the movie, he questions the meaning of The United States dropping the Atom bombs on Japan. He also says,"In my humble opinion, in the nuclear world, the true enemy is war itself." What the hell is someone like him doing in the military. In the liberal world his character is a hero. Applied to real life, people who hesitate in war usually cause more casualties.
As captain and executive officer of the submarine U.S.S. Alabama, Ramsey and Hunter find themselves at odds when they receive a fragmented message right after receiving a different message that orders them to fire their nuclear warheads at Russia. Does the partial message rescind the order? A mutiny and lots of pontificating goes on as the all star cast sweat out what may or may not become a nuclear war.
It is not that I hated the character of Hunter, I hated the character of Ramsey. He is written as a complete stereotype, that of a military hard nosed, hard head. The only real thing that makes Hunter into a hero is Hackman's cliched captain. Just because he is old school does not mean he would so easily, and willingly, potentially start World War III. But without his one track mind, Hunter would not come across as a shining knight of liberal thought.
The only thing to take away from this movie is that the military needs to be more conscientious. It's like when John Kerry said, "I think there has been an exaggeration of the terrorist threat." In war, anyone who sees in shades of gray and not black and white is bound to lose.
Photos © Copyright Don Simpson/Jerry Bruckheimer Films (1995)