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"K-19: THE WIDOWMAKER"
(2002) (Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Heavy Heavy Heavy Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Minor Extreme None Mild
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Minor None Moderate Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: Officers onboard a crippled Soviet sub square off about the proper course of action to take regarding their nuclear emergency.
PLOT:
It's 1961 and Russia is anxious to make a statement of deterrence to the U.S. with the introduction of their latest nuclear submarine, the K-19. Unfortunately, poor construction and supply efforts have left Captain Mikhail Polenin (LIAM NEESON) with an unfinished sub and inability to successfully complete pre-launch drills.

This forces Kremlin official Marshal Zelentstov (JOSS ACKLAND) to send revered Captain Alexei Vostrikov (HARRISON FORD) to command the K-19. This doesn't sit well with the crew or its officers including Yuri Demichev (STEVE NICOLSON) who tell Polenin that he's still their captain despite being bumped to Executive Officer.

Vostrikov immediately ruffles feathers with his stern attitude and demanding behavior that includes replacing the senior reactor officer with Vadim Radtchenko (PETER SARSGAARD), a young graduate of the nuclear training academy who's never served on a sub, but will now be working with Pavel Loktev (CHRISTIAN CAMARGO) in watching over K-19's reactors.

Despite the fact that various crewmembers now refer to the sub as the "widowmaker" - when considering that various men have already been killed before the initial launch - Vostrikov sets sail with the goal of test firing a nuclear missile. After some tense and suspenseful moments involving repeated drills, the crew is successful and then ordered to head to the American coast.

Yet, part of one of the sub's nuclear reactors then breaks, thus raising the core temperate to dangerous levels that could result in a thermonuclear explosion. With replacement Dr. Savran (DONALD SUMPTER) not being knowledgeable about how to deal with the resultant radiation burns afflicting those trying to repair the problem, and radiation levels progressively increasing inside the sub, Vostrikov and Polenin end up at odds over the proper course of action to deal with the worsening situation.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of war-related or submarine films, or any fans of anyone in the cast, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For disturbing images.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • HARRISON FORD plays a Soviet officer who's assigned command of the K-19 and immediately ruffles feathers with his stern attitude and repeated drills. He must then contend with Polenin and others questioning his orders and decision making.
  • LIAM NEESON plays the original captain of the sub who must contend with Vostrikov replacing him and giving orders that threaten the sub and her crew. He drinks a few times.
  • PETER SARSGAARD plays a young reactor officer who's assigned to the sub and must deal with the nuclear meltdown.
  • CHRISTIAN CAMARGO plays a crewmember who assists him in doing that.
  • STEVE NICOLSON plays an officer loyal to Polenin who questions Vostrikov's command and orders, and eventually tries to institute a mutiny.
  • DONALD SUMPTER plays the replacement doctor assigned to the sub who knows nothing about how to deal with radiation burns.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this PG-13 rated dramatic action film. The film officially gets its rating for disturbing images that include the sight of radiation burns on various men's skin after they're exposed to harmful radiation. Other crewmembers are injured or knocked around by accident (with some brief bloody results), while some brief struggling occurs and some men briefly point guns at others.

    The sight of those radiation burns as well as related scenes and others may be tense to some viewers, while various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes. Men's bare butts are briefly seen in nonsexual situations (one involving many of them "mooning" the enemy), while profanity and colorful phrases total only a handful in number.

    Meanwhile, a few characters smoke and others drink (and one is noted as being drunk). Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, some of that occurs during the film from soldering that takes place on the sub.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • A crewmember is noted as being drunk and is then relieved of his duty (we see him just after he's roused from his sleep).
  • A bottle of champagne doesn't break during a christening ceremony.
  • Various sailors drink (including a toast with shots) before setting sail and a few appear a bit intoxicated.
  • Various crewmembers drink wine with dinner.
  • Vostrikov orders that the men be given red wine to slow the rate of radiation absorption into their bodies.
  • Various men drink a toast to their fallen comrades.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • A supply truck accidentally runs over a man on the dock, killing him (we see some blood on his head).
  • One man's hand and face are bloody after an accident during a drill, while another man's head is bloody from another accident.
  • We see a crewmember vomit after being exposed to harmful amounts of nuclear radiation and then see radiation burns on his skin as well as that of another crewmember (that look like standard burns as well as blisters and reddened skin, etc.).
  • We then see more radiation burns on the next crew that's exited the reactor chamber, and some of them are a little bloody. We also see another man vomit and later see even worse radiation burns.
  • Another crewmember has bad radiation burns on his skin.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Some will see Vostrikov as being uncaring and taking unnecessary risks with the sub and her crew and for possibly stoking his own ego (although his actions are later explained and justified).
  • Polenin and certain members of his crew, including Demichev, disobey or question Vostrikov's orders in front of him (and behind his back) and other crewmembers.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • As dramatic music plays, men inside the sub try to deal with a tense situation of firing a nuclear missile while being fired upon by an unseen enemy torpedo in a several minute sequence (that turns out to be just a drill).
  • As the sub sets out for the first time, it immediately begins to spring some minor leaks.
  • Some drills are presented as tense and/or suspenseful moments, but since we're told they're drills, their impact is not as strong on the viewer as if we weren't sure about their reality.
  • During one of them, however, a man's hand gets caught in a moving chain and pulley, resulting in some blood, while another man accidentally hits his head on some metal structure and is knocked unconscious (with some more blood).
  • Vostrikov orders the sub to descend, eventually down to crush levels. Everyone onboard is tense about this and we see the hull of the sub starting to buckle under the strain of the pressure.
  • After that, Vostrikov then orders them to race toward the surface and an ice field of uncertain thickness.
  • The procedure leading up to firing a test nuclear missile is presented as tense and suspenseful.
  • Part of the nuclear reactor blows out and results in lost pressure and rising core temperatures that could result in a thermonuclear explosion in just a few hours. As a result, various crewmembers go into the reactor room to jury-rig a cooling solution, but face deadly amounts of radiation in the process (and we learn that they don't even have proper radiation suits to offer them some level of protection). When they come back out, we see some of them vomit as well as radiation burns on their skin (the sight of which could be unsettling to some viewers). After two teams have already gone in, Vadim freaks out and won't go in. As this occurs, we see and get updates about the progressively increasing core temperature.
  • We see a mouse inside a cage in the sub on its side and convulsing from too much radiation exposure. We later see that it's dead.
  • From that point on, Vostrikov and Polenin square off in heated debate about the proper course of action considering that the radiation levels inside the sub are progressively increasing.
  • The coolant fix on the sub fails, resulting in a rising core temperature and another crewmember going into the reactor room to attempt to repair the fix.
  • A few men struggle with each other, resulting in a spark that ignites some fuel and causes a fire inside the sub.
  • Demichev and a communist party official hold handguns on Vostrikov as they attempt to take over the sub.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns: Used by some men to arrest someone onboard the sub.
  • Machine guns: Carried by guards in various scenes.
  • Torpedoes: Seen onboard the sub.
  • Nuclear Missile: Test fired from the sub (but we don't know where it goes).
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the hell?" "Jackass" and "Shut up."
  • Various crewmembers on top of the sub that's surfaced decide to "moon" an American helicopter and we thus see many of their bare butts.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • A man's hand is suddenly caught in a chain and pulley (resulting in a bloody injury) during a practice drill.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • An extreme amount of suspenseful and dramatic music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • What sounded like at least 1 "s" word, as well as 1 slang term for male genitals ("torpedo"), 1 damn and 1 hell used as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • A man tells a crewmember to wrap a piece of foil around his private parts and then mentions doing something once a day that will tell him how long "you have before your torpedo falls off."
  • Various crewmembers on top of the sub that's surfaced decide to "moon" an American helicopter and we thus see many of their bare butts.
  • We see some men's bare butts from a distance, as they stand nude after having their clothes removed to be decontaminated.
  • SMOKING
  • Vostrikov and Zelentstov each smoke once, while various crewmembers also smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • None.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy of this dramatic portrayal of real events and/or artistic license taken with it.
  • The Cold War.
  • Serving military duty on a submarine.
  • Nuclear reactors and radiation dangers.
  • Whether Vostrikov was serving the needs of his country or stoking his ego through the actions he takes.
  • We see some footage of American turmoil as a newsreel plays on the sub. It shows some civil rights unrest (with the KKK burning a cross, police struggling with black people, and using fire hoses on them, as well as some archived nuclear explosions and a test building being hit by a nuclear blast).
  • VIOLENCE
  • A supply truck accidentally runs over a man on the dock, killing him (we see some blood on his head).
  • Some crewmembers are accidentally knocked over during a drill.
  • We see some footage of American turmoil as a newsreel plays on the sub. It shows some civil rights unrest (with police struggling with black people, and using fire hoses on them, as well as some archived views of a nuclear explosion and a test building being hit by a nuclear blast).
  • During a drill, a man's hand gets caught in a moving chain and pulley, resulting in some blood, while another man accidentally hits his head on some metal structure and is knocked unconscious (with some more blood).
  • A crewmember accidentally bangs his head during another drill.
  • Various crewmembers are throttled about inside the sub as it smashes through an ice field on the ocean surface at high speed.
  • Several crewmembers suffer bad radiation burns on their skin after being exposed to harmful amounts of radiation (that also makes them sick, ill, blinds one and eventually kills them after the main part of the story ends - but we don't see the deaths).
  • A man repeatedly slaps Vadim on the face while trying to help him regain his composure (but it doesn't work).
  • We see a mouse inside a cage in the sub on its side and convulsing from too much radiation exposure. We later see that it's dead.
  • A few men struggle with each other, resulting in a spark that ignites some fuel and causes a fire inside the sub.
  • Demichev and a communist party official hold handguns on Vostrikov as they attempt to take over the sub. Polenin then briefly holds a gun on Demichev as he has him arrested for mutiny.



  • Reviewed July 16, 2002 / Posted July 19, 2002

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