Crimson Tide (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tony Scott|
|Produced by||Don Simpson
|Screenplay by||Michael Schiffer|
|Story by||Michael Schiffer
Richard P. Henrick
|Music by||Hans Zimmer|
|Editing by||Chris Lebenzon|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Release date(s)||May 12, 1995|
|Running time||116 minutes|
Crimson Tide is a 1995 submarine film directed by Tony Scott, produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. It takes place during a period of political turmoil in the Russian Federation, in which ultranationalists threaten to launch nuclear missiles at the United States and Japan. It focuses on a clash of wills between the seasoned commanding officer (Gene Hackman) and the new executive officer (Denzel Washington) of a nuclear missile submarine, arising from conflicting interpretations of an order to launch their missiles.
In post-Soviet Russia, military units loyal to Vladimir Radchenko, an ultranationalist, have taken control of a nuclear missile installation and are threatening nuclear war if either the American or Russian governments attempt to confront him.
A U.S. Navy nuclear submarine, USS Alabama (SSBN-731), is assigned a patrol mission, to be available to launch its missiles in a preemptive strike if Radchenko attempts to fuel his missiles. Captain Frank Ramsey (Hackman) is the commanding officer of the sub, and one of the few commanders left in the U.S. Navy with any combat experience. He chooses as his new executive officer (XO) Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Washington), who has an extensive education in military history and tactics, but no combat experience.
During their initial days at sea, tensions between Ramsey and Hunter become apparent due to a clash of personalities: Hunter's more analytical, cautious approach, as opposed to Ramsey's more impulsive and intuitive approach. Alabama eventually receives an Emergency Action Message, ordering the launch of ten of its missiles against the Russian nuclear installation, based on satellite information that the Russians' missiles are being fueled. Before Alabama can launch, a second message arrives but is cut off by the attack of a Russian submarine loyal to Radchenko. The radio is damaged in the attack and is unable to decode the second message. With the last confirmed order being to launch, Captain Ramsey decides to proceed. Hunter refuses to concur as is procedurally required, because he believes the partial second message may be a retraction. Hunter argues that Alabama is not the only American submarine in the area, and if the order is not retracted, other submarines will launch their missiles as part of the fleet's standard redundancy doctrine. Ramsey argues that the other American submarines may have been destroyed.
When Hunter refuses to consent, Ramsey tries to relieve him of duty and replace him with a different officer. Instead, Hunter orders the arrest of Ramsey for attempting to circumvent protocol. The crew's loyalty is divided between Hunter and Ramsey. A mutiny ensues and command of Alabama changes hands, with Ramsey retaking the bridge and Hunter then getting support from the weapons officer in the missile control room, further delaying the launch. Other crew members try to repair the radio while the battle for command continues. Eventually, Ramsey gains control of the entire ship, but with the radio team reporting they are near success, agrees to a compromise; they will wait until the deadline to see if the radio can be repaired.
After several tense minutes, communications are restored and they finally see the full message from the second transmission. It is a retraction ordering that the missile launch be aborted because Radchenko's rebellion has been quelled. After returning to base, Ramsey and Hunter are put before a naval tribunal to answer for their actions. The tribunal concludes that both men were simultaneously right and wrong, so Hunter's mutiny was lawfully justified. Unofficially, the tribunal chastises both men for failing to resolve the issues between them. Thanks to Ramsey's personal recommendation, the tribunal agrees to grant Hunter his own command while Ramsey opts for early retirement. Both men then reconcile their differences and part ways.
- Gene Hackman as Captain Frank Ramsey
- Denzel Washington as Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter
- George Dzundza as Chief of the Boat "Cob"
- James Gandolfini as Lieutenant Bobby Dougherty
- Matt Craven as Lieutenant Roy Zimmer
- Viggo Mortensen as Lieutenant Peter "Weps" Ince
- Rocky Carroll as Lieutenant Darik Westergard
- Danny Nucci as Petty Officer Danny Rivetti
- Steve Zahn as Seaman William Barnes
- Rick Schroder as Lt. Paul Hellerman
- Lillo Brancato, Jr. as Petty Officer Third Class Russell Vossler
- Ryan Phillippe as Seaman Grattam (feature film debut)
- Daniel von Bargen as Vladimir Radchenko
- Jason Robards as Rear Admiral Anderson, Board of Inquiry President (uncredited)
listen to a clip from the score of the 1995 film Crimson Tide.
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The score for Crimson Tide was composed by Hans Zimmer, and employs a blend of orchestra, choir and synthesizer sounds. It includes additional music by Nick Glennie-Smith and the music was conducted by Harry Gregson-Williams. Within the score is the well-known naval hymn, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save". The score won a Grammy Award in 1996, and has been described by Zimmer as one of his personal favorites.2
The U.S. Navy objected to many of the elements in the script—particularly the aspect of mutiny on board a U.S. naval vessel—and as such, the film was produced without the assistance of the U.S. Navy.5 The French Navy (Marine Nationale) assisted the team for production with the French aircraft carrier Foch and one SNLE.
Crimson Tide earned $18.6 million in the United States on its opening weekend, which ranked #1 for all films released that week. Overall, it earned $91 million in the U.S. and an additional $66 million internationally, for a total of $157.3 million.6
The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 87% of 46 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 7.5 out of 10.7 A number of critics cited Hackman and Washington's performances, and enjoyed the film's snappy, pop culture inflected dialogue.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "This is the rare kind of war movie that not only thrills people while they're watching it, but invites them to leave the theater actually discussing the issues,"8 and Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "Crimson Tide has everything you could want from an action thriller and a few other things you usually can't hope to expect."9
Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly wrote that, "what makes Crimson Tide a riveting pop drama is the way the conflict comes to the fore in the battle between two men. ... The end of the world may be around the corner, but what holds us is the sight of two superlatively fierce actors working at the top of their game."10
In contrast, Janet Maslin of The New York Times criticized the film's "blowhardiness" and superficial treatment of apocalyptic fears. She noted that there is "... something awfully satisfying about the throbbing missiles and cathartic explosions that constitute this film's main excitement," but felt that "... nothing else here delivers a comparable thrill."11
- "Crimson Tide (1995) - Box office / business". IMDb. Retrieved July 25, 2010.
- "Hans Zimmer Interview". Film Score. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- Peary, Gerald (August 1998). "Chronology". Quentin Tarantino Interviews. Conversations with Filmmakers Series. University Press of Mississippi. p. xviii. ISBN 1-57806-050-8. Retrieved 2008-08-03.
- "Quentin Tarantino Biography". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- Suid, Lawrence (2002). Guts & Glory: The Making of the American Military Image in Film (2 ed.). University Press of Kentucky. p. 748. ISBN 978-0-8131-9018-1. Retrieved 2/12/2009.
- Crimson Tide at Box Office Mojo
- Crimson Tide at Rotten Tomatoes
- Ebert, Roger. "Crimson Tide," Chicago Sun-Times (May 12, 1995).
- LaSalle, Mick. "Tension Hot in Crimson: Submarine thriller a first-rate story," San Francisco Chronicle (May 12, 1995).
- Gleiberman, Owen. "Movie Review: Crimson Tide," Entertainment Weekly (May 12, 1995).
- Maslin, Janet. "FILM REVIEW: CRIMSON TIDE; Deciding the World's Fate From the Ocean's Bottom". The New York Times (May 12, 1995).
- "The 68th Academy Awards (1996) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
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- Crimson Tide at the Internet Movie Database
- Crimson Tide at Rotten Tomatoes
- Crimson Tide at Box Office Mojo