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CRIMSON TIDE ($30) is a taut and extremely entertaining military thriller about a US nuclear submarine on an extremely delicate mission in which it may be required to launch its nuclear payload. Due to civil unrest in the former Soviet Union, rebel forces may be able to launch an assault against the US, if they can break the lockout codes for the warheads contained in a recently commandeered Russian missile silo. Gene Hackman is Captain Ramsey, a career Navy man of the old school, who follows orders without question. Denzel Washington is Ramsey’s new Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander Hunter. Hunter is a college-educated officer and is something of a free thinker. Hunter follows the chain of command, but not blindly. The film’s pivotal moment comes when the two men’s philosophical differences place them on a collision course. An incoming message orders the submarine to launch a preemptive strike against the commandeered missile silo.

While the submarine makes ready to carry out its orders at the appointed time, a second message is partially received. Captain Ramsey has his orders in hand and continues to prepare for the missile launch. Commander Hunter believes that the partial message may have contained the recall codes, and is unwilling to start a nuclear war until the full message can be received. This leads to a standoff between the two officers, with both citing regulations to back their positions. The situation escalates to near mutiny with both officers leading factions of the crew who must take and re-take control of the submarine and its weaponry. Director Tony Scott sustains the tension as the plot twists and turns to its inevitable conclusion. Hackman and Washington are perfectly cast in their roles and deliver performances that never leave the audience doubting the convictions of these two strong willed men. The cast of CRIMSON TIDE also features Matt Craven, George Dzundza, Viggo Mortensen, James Gandolfini, Rocky Carroll, Danny Nucci, Rick Schroder and Jason Robards.

Hollywood Pictures Home Video has made CRIMSON TIDE available on DVD in the Letterboxed format. Despite the cramped setting, director Scott and cinematographer Dariusz Wolski make excellent use of the 2.35:1 framing. Therefore, the Letterboxing is an absolute must. The transfer is beautiful and serves Wolski’s work quite well. Colors are intense and well saturated, while the Image is crisp and detailed. Digital compression artifacts were hardly noticeable.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is terrific. The mix makes good use of the discrete channels during the key action sequences, while adding atmosphere to the confined spaces of the sub. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround and French language tracks. Subtitles are available in Spanish.

The interactive menus offer the standard scene and language selection options.

CRIMSON TIDE is solid entertainment and the DVD looks and sounds great. It will make a fine addition to any collection. Recommended.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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