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Crimson Tide: Unrated Extended Edition

Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman make for explosive nemeses in this typically tense 1995 submarine-bound military thriller. When a renegade Russian general seizes control of a nuclear missile base in the destabilized post-Cold War republic, the U.S. Navy deploys nuclear submarines to prepare for a preemptive strike should he follow through on his blustery, apocalyptic rhetoric. Washington stars as Lt. Commander Ron Hunter, the newly assigned Executive Officer of the USS Alabama and second in command to the old-school Capt. Frank Ramsey (Hackman). While Ramsey is a no-nonsense ass-kicker unencumbered by concerns that fall outside of the chain of command, Hunter represents a new breed of hyper-educated, Ivy League naval officers who view war through the lens of not just order-and-obey, but a moral wariness informed by the dangers of the nuclear age. Early differences between the top two officers are exacerbated when the Russian splinter group is detected fueling its nuclear arsenal for launch at the U.S. within the hour, and the Alabama is ordered to strike first. After the Alabama is engaged by a hostile sub, its communications are cut off, fragmenting a subsequent launch order. Ramsey holds fast to the original order to launch, but Hunter refuses to comply on the chance that the incomplete order was meant to rescind the call for potentially disastrous nuclear engagement. Like virtually every other submarine movie in that rarefied subgenre, Crimson Tide is chock full of claustrophobic power struggles and emotionally charged mutinies, dire malfunctions and fatal floods, and lots of feverish, sweaty barking of orders into scratchy intercoms and frenzied rushings down tight gangways with flickering lights while the fate of civilization hangs in the balance. Although it is not immune to deep descents into silliness, the movie bristles with tension and energy, thanks in no small part to its two stars giving full-throated, stubborn performances as good as any in their careers. It helps also that director Tony Scott was as near-perfect a blockbuster action director as any during the last two decades of the 20th century, and, re-teamed with mega-producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, he manages to make the inevitability of the movie's ending a non-factor during the well-executed thrill ride leading up to it. Also with George Dzundza, Viggo Mortensen, Matt Craven, and brief appearances by Steve Zahn, Rick Schroder, James Lesure, Ryan Phillippe, Scott Grimes, and Jason Robards. Buena Vista's "Unrated Extended Edition" of Crimson Tide features about six minutes of additional footage (one quick scene of which is in particularly bad shape, as if it had been spliced in from a 20th generation VHS dupe) and is presented in a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. This disc also include three extra deleted scenes and the featurettes "On The Set of Crimson Tide" and "The Making of Crimson Tide." Trailers, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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