Phantom – Movie Review

Ed Harris is back in command and the world depends on him. Look out.

Down and out, a washed up officer with a history of failures and a drinking problem, his assignment is to skipper a rusty scow of an early model Soviet nuclear submarine on a murky mission guided by David Duchovny into something that looks like an X-Files journey into the Twilight Zone.

Harris is guided by his right hand man and life and death confidante William Fichtner, who, if you believed anything you saw in the redoubtable “Blackhawk Down,” is a partner who will take you through thick and thin.

Harris plays skipper Demi, a cold war salt with dolphin in his blood and plutonium in his liver. Demi can fire a torpedo in his sleep that will find its way to the target and elude enemy sonar like a squid’s ink cloud.
He has that magical submariner’s sixth sense that tells him just how far he can take his craft, just how far below the rated depth and just how close to that enemy sub. He knows all the tricks, but beyond that he has a spiritual connection with the sea. Perhaps it is his spiritual connection that makes him so fearless. He is always ready to die.

Bruni (played by Duchovny) is exactly the opposite. He is a KGB wunderkind, a resurrection of the Nazi superman, at least in his own mind, with his own hand-picked crew of rabid extremists bent on having their way with Harris and his house, home, wife and coffin, Das Boot. Bruni is on a secret mission for which Demi was especially selected. Perhaps one of the reasons Demi was chosen is that he was in a poor position to refuse the command, even given the dubious circumstances.

The fact is, Demi is subject to violent seizures that began after one of his harrowing commands. Even copious applications of vodka cannot quell the horrendous memories that throb through his skull like the sea through ballast tanks on full dive. He and Bruni are on a collision course in an environment that is, at best, unforgiving.

Playing “chicken of the sea” with a much larger, more modern and lethally equipped American sub, Bruni pulls something out of his hat that even Demi has never seen before. Considered a cockroach of the conning tower before, the smarmy spy has eluded the crack enemy in the face of certain defeat and possible death for the crew. Demi and Alex are impressed but they do not yet know the next step of the plan.

Using an advanced and ultra-secret sonar encryption, they are about to spring the most brutal, deadly and vicious trap in the history of the cold war.

They have chosen the washed up, trembling, schizoid Demi as their skip[per for their criminal plan because they know he is smart enough to pull the levers and traumatized enough to be bullied into looking the other way while millions of innocent men, women and children or vaporized under the nuclear jackboots of Bruni and his military mob.

Although not as riveting as “Das Boot,” the fact that the story is based on possible real life circumstances is compelling. Although this particular threat of nuclear war may not be substantiated for years, due to the intractable forces of “national security,” this remains one of the great cautionary tales about nuclear holocaust. The threat of nuclear attack remains as real as ever, even in the wake of so-called glasnost.

As generations of high-tech children take the helms of the world’s most powerful institutions, it is inevitable that some will come to believe they know the way forward, regardless of the means required.

Without taking the message any more seriously than that, this is a good, creepy suspense story. A combination of “X-Files” and “Run Silent, Run Deep” with a little “Alien” thrown in for good measure. Based on actual fact? Possibly, but who cares? Ed Harris is at the helm.

Visit the movie database for more information.

Directed and Written by: Todd Robinson
Starring: Ed Harris, Julian Adams and David Duchovny
Release Date: March 1, 2013
MPAA: Rated R for violence
Run Time: 97 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color

Further Reading on M&C

David Duchovny Biography - - David Duchovny Movies -
Ed Harris Biography - - Ed Harris Movies -