Typing Faster

September 2, 2010

A Perfect Movie: The Hunt for Red October

Filed under: Features, Stuff I Like — petertypingfaster @ 6:46 pm

We all have them. You’re mindlessly channel surfing, lazy, procrastinating, bored. And then you stumble across it. Could be an old movie, TV show, special, whatever. But whatever it is, somehow, someway, it has an inexplicable hold on you. No matter what else you might have to do, no matter how important, you’re going to be glued to your TV until that show finishes.

One of my “I-must-watch-this” movies is The Hunt for Red October. There’s a really simple reason why I can’t walk away from this movie.

It is, quite simply, perfect.

There’s not a wasted moment in this film. Not an iota of fat. It’s entertaining, well acted, and holds up incredibly well considering it’s almost twenty years old. The only complaint I’ve heard leveled against it, and one that I dismiss out of hand, is that some people can’t get past Sean Connery’s *SCOTTISH* accent (really? You’re demanding authentic accents in a thriller?).

It’s also, in my opinion, one of the best written movies. Everything tracks in this movie. Every little thing that happens is set up earlier, and every pay off is great. Ryan’s fear of flying? Paid off with the harrowing helicopter ride into the middle of the Atlantic (also bookended nicely with him sleeping soundly on the flight home). The saboteur? The same seaman who Ramius asks to witness him taking the missile keys from the recently deceased Political Officer.

One of the biggest problems I see in scripts my new writers is a tendency to sprawl. They ramble, explore tangents, and, more often than not, wind up losing the thread of their story. The Hunt for Red October is the opposite of that. It’s relentless in its focus. From the get go the Americans are trying to do one thing, find this missing submarine. While the movie delves into politics and the personal motivations Ramius and his crew have for defecting, it’s all told within the parameter of the search for the sub.

It’s a masterclass on writing a feature length thriller.

Any aspiring writer who hasn’t seen this movie really should drop everything and go watch it. Anyone who appreciates movies and hasn’t seen it, should drop everything and watch it. Even if you’re like me, someone who loves this movie, you would probably benefit from rewatching it from time-to-time.

That’s not something I can say about the other movies I simply have to watch if I stumble across them on television late one night (Roadhouse, I’m looking at you!), but I can definitely say it about The Hunt for Red October.



  1. /Sigh. Did Derek put you up to this post? This is the movie I always avoid and that he loves.

    Comment by Rach Langer — September 2, 2010 @ 6:53 pm

    • Nope! Your hubby just has great taste!

      Comment by petertypingfaster — September 3, 2010 @ 9:09 am

  2. I LOVE this movie. And, BTW, Connery has a Scottish accent – and is front and center in the bid to free Scotland. Anyway, I agree that it is perfect. Including the info of Ramius’ obnoxious student Tupelov, whose arrogance gets him killed. But remember, this is an adaptation of a terrific book.

    Comment by Deb — September 3, 2010 @ 12:36 pm

    • Good point on the adaptation front. And what a brain fart on the accent!

      Comment by petertypingfaster — September 3, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

  3. I’m not sure if I would agree on the word “perfect” but it was a great movie. I should probably read the book sometime.


    Comment by Jared H — September 7, 2010 @ 8:26 am

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