Movie Review: ‘The Command’

Review by Bradley Smith

Based on a true story, The Command recreates the final days of the Russian submarine Kursk which sank in the Barents Sea after an explosion during a naval exercise. Those sailors that did not die in the initial explosions struggle to survive underwater in the damaged submarine while bureaucratic red tape stalls any rescue attempts on the surface. It is both tragic and frustrating to see the price of maintaining military secrets. The film is well made with fine acting, believable special effects, and a heartbreaking, dramatic story, but it leaves us with an ultimately unsatisfying ending that makes several scenes irrelevant in hindsight.

Colin Firth’s scenes are a perfect example of this. He is a great actor and his scenes do provide some dramatic tension. But, spoiler alert, his appearance in the film could be edited out without changing much of the rest of the movie. The final outcome is unchanged by his character’s presence. His only purpose seems to be to highlight the road blocks that Russian bureaucracy threw up as there were plenty of external resources to save the sailors that were rejected in the name of secrecy.

We do get some quality time with characters that are not as expendable before the action explodes. Before the submarine departs, we are introduced to the main sailors, first through some family horseplay as a pregnant wife tries to get her son to go to bed. There is some discussion about their town’s economic hardships and a dinner party where a song is introduced that will have some importance later. There is enough character development to make you sort of care about the sailors and make the disaster part of the movie more tense. But then the ending is so anticlimactic that any built up tension just fizzles.

Yes, I am stuck on the ending. The rest of the movie was a pretty good based on a true story disaster movie. It has action, drama and emotion, a fine cast and realistic characters, and a decent script. Excluding the abrupt ending, which they really could not do much about since it is based on true events, the film is worthy of a look and should start some discussions about the cost of secrecy.

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