With Gene Hackman as a crusty, old-guard submarine captain and Denzel Washington as Denzel Washington with a fancy uniform, Crimson Tide tells the story of two men who are absolute in their belief that they are right in a game where the stakes couldn’t be higher — a potential nuclear war.
Through Bret’s eyes, Crimson Tide is a well-made, superbly acted thriller that demonstrates the consequences when two very different schools of thought collide, putting the world on the brink of a nuclear holocaust. To Erin, it’s just two assholes acting like children on a boat.
Directed by the late Tony Scott, Crimson Tide deftly illustrates the perils of having two different leaders with drastically different philosophies who refuse to peacefully coexist. While most movies would have found the two eventually putting aside their differences for the greater good, Crimson Tide avoids falling into that cliche with an ultimately fitting line; “you were both right and you were both wrong.”
As Lieutenant Commander Hunter, Denzel Washington puts on one of his Denzeliest performances. You really won’t know where Denzel ends and where Denzel begins. As an aside, is it considered method acting if you always play every character the same way as if you are just being yourself? In all actuality, he is quite good in the role, displaying effective chemistry with a strong supporting cast (Viggo Mortensen with a sweet flat-top haircut, James Gandolfini as a complete war-mongering d-bag and George Dzundza as the conflicted Chief of the Boat) as well as with Hackman, who really is the star of the show.
In the end, Crimson Tide is a solid film with good performances that isn’t overly reliant on action, but rather on a conflict without a perfect resolution. Or it’s two assholes on a boat acting like children.