Gerard Butler hasn’t got a great track record for film making. While his films are generally enjoyable, they are on a critical level often quite shallow and badly done. Unfortunately, Hunter Killer is another example of this, as the submarine thriller begins to sink.
It must firstly be said that Gerard Butler himself is actually pretty good in this. He’s restrained and calm in his performance and does portray an interesting, if one dimensional character. However, it’s also clear that this film was shot before Gary Oldman was an Oscar winning actor. His boring part is a few scenes of over-the-top shouting that the marketing team have subsequently bumped up to second billing. Toby Stevens plays an army officer with a subplot that isn’t entirely clear, and Michael Nyqvist is great, in one of his final posthumous roles after tragically dying of lung cancer last year.
The film should really be re-named “People standing around and looking at sonar screens: The Movie”. The plot is fairly convoluted but never well explained. Ultimately, it follows Gerard Butler as a submarine commander and Gary Oldman as a US admiral as they teeter on the edge of World War Three. The film has Rocky IV levels of ‘America good, Russia bad’ patriotism, and this felt a misguided step to add current political status to a tired plot.
The CGI in this film is unfortunately also not up to the high standard now expected. The opening shot of icebergs looks like something out of Die Another Day, and several shots are clearly filmed in front of a blue-screen, due to the characters having a faint blue glow surrounding them where the colour keying hasn’t quite worked.
Ultimately, Hunter Killer is a bland and forgettable affair. There are some entertaining scenes, but everything has been done better in other films (once again Mission: Impossible Fallout rears its head, as the film attempts another HALO jump scene that still doesn’t capture the excitement like M:I6 did). It’s way too long, has too little plot and not enough excitement to save it from the depths of forgettable film-making.