Courtesy of RCR Media
The Cold War makes a comeback in the 1960s-era film “Phantom,” which tells the true tale of a Soviet submarine captain trying to prevent a nuclear war in the 1960s.
Todd Robinson, who also wrote the script loosely based the film on historical events involving the United States’ recovery of the K-129 submarine in 1960.
Ed Harris (“Game Change”) plays the old, epileptic Captain Demi, who is sent on a secret final mission before his retirement. While on board the submarine, he experiences flashbacks from his dark history.
He is joined by his comrades Sasha (Jason Gray-Stanford, “Caroline and Jackie”) and Alex (William Fichtner, “Wrong”) as well as a number of other Soviets. Bruni (David Duchovny, “Goats”) and his men also tag along as extremist KGB members, whose true intentions remain a mystery.
The film is, or at least is supposed to be, about the Russian perspective in this conflict. However, it becomes very difficult to take the film seriously when all the characters speak in English and use American phrases yet are surrounded by Soviet icons like Lenin and the hammer and sickle. Nonetheless, once viewers learn to accept this contrast, “Phantom” becomes easier to watch and follow.
The director’s main problem with the movie is time. The running time for the movie is only about 90 minutes. The cast is composed of a number of brilliant actors, but no one had the capacity to shine. There was not enough time for any character to become deeply evolved besides the Captain. Although Harris gave a great performance, his exposition is brief and underdeveloped. Bruni is an underwhelming cliché of a character. Adding more plot development would have helped the movie flow better, but the lack of time curbed Robinson’s ability to do just that.
The film plays around with many great ideas but is not able to bring them together coherently. The choppiness of the film goes back again to the issue of time. Every main plot element occurs at once. Viewers are likely to have a hard time processing what is happening when they cannot focus on one storyline component at a time.
“Phantom” is still an interesting watch. The plot evokes some of the nostalgia of the Cold War. The action sequences are very exciting, albeit brief. The emotion may not be executed well, but it is certainly palpable throughout the story. The film is a definite must-see for submarine, military and history aficionados but may be harder to appreciate for the average moviegoer.